Coach Hoski

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Sep 25, 2008
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So I'm waiting to hear back from all these schools, and I'm thinking about my backup plans and what I will do if I'm not accepted. Last year I worked in outpatient ortho (as an aide) with PT's and ATC's, and I decided I loved working with high school athletes and the like, as the ATC's did in their split time between the clinic and high school. I also got to help the trainers of the USA men's developmental hockey teams, and really enjoyed that. Having figured this out, I decided to apply to an athletic training master's program as a backup if PT doesn't work out.
What has got me concerned is not the steep salary decrease or long hours, but the potential for all of the ATC jobs in hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities to be gone if the APTA decides to throw it's weight around with the insurance companies and bans ATC's from billing for PT.
Does anyone know if that might happen in the near future?
 

callmecrazy

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Regulations vary from state to state, but my understanding is that some/many/most(?) do not allow ATs to bill for PT service as it is. Afterall, they are not PTs. It also appears that in some states, ATs can not function in any capacity but that of an "aide" while working in a PT clinic, while some can function as "other professionals" or only under direct supervision of a PT.

I'm hoping someone with more information chimes in on this though. The whole idea of an AT, which only requires a bachelors, supposedly performing "physical therapy" on patients just doesn't seem right.

That being said, if you want to be a PT and you don't get in this year, I would wait and reapply. Or if you are drawn to AT, then go that route. I wouldn't enter either under the assumption that they are interchangeable though.
 

fallbackplan

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Jun 26, 2008
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What states actually allow for ATs to practice Physical Therapy in their practice acts? Better yet, what insurance payers will pay for ATs to bill for PT services?

This is really news to me...
 
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Coach Hoski

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Sep 25, 2008
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What states actually allow for ATs to practice Physical Therapy in their practice acts? Better yet, what insurance payers will pay for ATs to bill for PT services?

This is really news to me...
I will tell you for sure that in Michigan, as long as the note is signed by a PT, AT's can have their own separate patient schedules and see nonmedicare patients very much the way a PTA would. So technically, I guess the PT is billing, but the vast majority of the care is provided by the AT.
Again, this is only done when appropriate; patients with non-spinal, sports, & orthopedic overuse injuries (i.e. biceps tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis, ect.) and not with cervicalgia, lumbago, ect..
Pretty common practice from what I have seen in many clinics and healthcare facilities in my experiences.
 

truthseeker

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Although that happens, it is not strictly by the letter of the law in most states. PTs only, can bill for PT evaluation and Re-evaluation. Anyone can bill the physical medicine codes (PT AT DC MD DO) not just PTs. I don't foresee the ATCs working primarrily in the hospitals but private sports med clinics maybe. They may work in the hospital but as a very highly trained aide. In Minnesota I don't believe that they can work independently in the hospital setting.

There is also the question of supervision. In MN the PT needs to observe every 6th visit for PTAs. I would think that with an ATC it would need to be line of sight supervision for EVERYpatient.
 

atstudent

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Jun 3, 2009
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The whole idea of an AT, which only requires a bachelors, supposedly performing "physical therapy" on patients just doesn't seem right.
But a PTA (with a two-year degree BTW) is more than capable? Also, I sure hope no PT's are left over from when a bachelors was the only degree required to be a PT..

truthseeker said:
There is also the question of supervision. In MN the PT needs to observe every 6th visit for PTAs. I would think that with an ATC it would need to be line of sight supervision for EVERYpatient.
I'd be interested to hear why you feel a PTA is more qualified to provide care than a certified athletic trainer?

Sorry to bring this back up; just asking for understanding...
 

callmecrazy

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But a PTA (with a two-year degree BTW) is more than capable? Also, I sure hope no PT's are left over from when a bachelors was the only degree required to be a PT..
The transition from bachelors to masters didn't happen until the 1990's, so yes there are still PTs practicing with only a bachelors. This will probably be the case for another 15-20 years until they've all retired.

I never said that a PTA was capable of treating on their own either, but they don't. They work under the direction of a PT and can not bill for PT treatment independently.
 

SportEhab120

Physical Therapist
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Dec 6, 2008
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But a PTA (with a two-year degree BTW) is more than capable? Also, I sure hope no PT's are left over from when a bachelors was the only degree required to be a PT..
Actually there are PT's with bachelors still practicing...One was actually my CI...but obviously ones that still only have a bachelor's have experience on their side. But anyway, it is my understanding that a recent bill allows athletic trainers in my state to provide rehab to individuals injured DURING "athletic" activities. Now the word "athletic" can be construed anyway you want it to depending on if your an athletic trainer or a PT, but the truth of the matter is medicare, medicaid, and other insurers will not reimburse for rehab services provided by athletic trainers unless they are supervised every 6th visit or 14th calender day by a PT, and physicians are actually opposed to athletic trainers treating patients. So to keep it short, ATs would only be doing the same thing PTAs are allowed to do.
 
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