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Updated Competencies for Physical Therapists Working in Schools

Effgen, Susan K. PT, PhD; Chiarello, Lisa PT, PhD, PCS; Milbourne, Suzanne A. OT, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318158ce90
Research Report

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to update the 1987 competencies for physical therapists who work in schools and their content to reflect present practice, legislation, and terminology.

Methods: A review of the literature and competencies for professionals working in schools was completed. Four focus groups of school physical therapists were formed to ascertain their perspectives of the roles and responsibilities of school therapists and what knowledge and skills enabled them to be effective. This information was integrated into a listing of competencies. The competencies were reviewed regionally and nationally by experts in the field.

Results: Nine content areas with specific competencies were identified for physical therapists working in schools. These competencies reflect an expanded role of school-based therapists compared with previous competencies.

Conclusion: Physical therapists who work in schools require specific skills and knowledge to effectively serve children with disabilities. Competencies help guide professional development.

This list of competencies for PTs working in schools updates the previous competency list developed back in 1987.

Department of Rehabilitation Science (S.K.E.), University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, Drexel University, Programs in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science (L.C.), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Department of Occupational Therapy (S.A.M.), Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Address correspondence to: Susan K. Effgen, PT, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kentucky, 900 S. Limestone, Lexington, KY 40536-0200. E-mail:

Supported by Grant H029G970066-98, from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education awarded to MCP/Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pa.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.