How to Make Your Credentials Less Confusing $0.00

How to Make Your Credentials Less Confusing

By: Emily Nichols | Nov 28, 2018
How to Make Your Credentials Less Confusing

What do all of those letters mean, anyway?

Although the letters following your name mean a lot to you as a clinician, they can become quite confusing to your patients. You should be proud to write all of the credentials after your name! Show off the success you’ve had from putting in endless hours of work towards your degrees and certifications. However, keep your patients in mind when writing letter after letter as they most likely don’t understand the abbreviations.


Luckily, the American Physical Therapy Association has taken some steps to help you out! APTA’s 2016 House of Delegates made changes to the CONSUMER PROTECTION THROUGH LICENSURE OF PHYSICAL THERAPISTS AND PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS (HOD P06-14-08-18, Principle II). The changes were made to help minimize the use of abbreviated credentials following a physical therapist’s or physical therapist assistant’s name. This can help reduce the confusion that patients may experience.


Acceptable Designations


Five categories of abbreviated designations are supported by the APTA. Listed below are the five designation categories in the order they should be written. Should you not have a designation in any of the categories or do not want to include it after your name, the next designation will move up in order. Only the first designation is mandatory while the other four designation categories are optional.

First Designation

PT or PTA

  • PT, PTA

Second Designation

Highest earned physical therapy-related degree

  • DPT, MPT, MSPT, BSPT

Third Designation

Other regulatory designation(s) issued by government entities

  • APN, APNR, APRN, ATC, ATC/L, CNS, CPA, CRNP, CS, LAc, LAC, LCMT, LCSW, LDM, LM, LMSW, LMT, LPC, LCPC, LVT, MT, NP, OT, OTR/L, RN, SLP (and others as identified)

Fourth Designation

Other earned academic degree(s)

  • AuD, BA, BS, CScD, DC, DDS, DEd, DHS, DMD, DMT, DNP, DO, DPM, DSc, DScPT, DVM, EdD, JD, LLM, MA, MBA, MD, MEd, MHS, MLS, MOTR, MPA, MPH, MPP, MS, MSHA, ND, NMD, PharmD, PhD, PsyD, SLPD, SLPM (and others as identified0

Fifth Designation

FAPTA

  • FAPTA

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties Clinical Certifications


When room allows, specialty certifications by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) should be spelled out in order to recognize the accomplishment and increase public awareness of its value. The APTA does not recognize or use former ABPTS abbreviations.

See a few examples below for how to properly write out ABPTS certifications:

  • Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • Board-Certified [Pediatric] Clinical Specialist
  • Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy
  • Board-Certified [Sports] Clinical Specialist
  • Board-Certified in Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy
  • Board-Certified [Cardiovascular and Pulmonary] Clinical Specialist

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties Clinical Certifications


When room allows and it is contextually appropriate to make note of the certification, the APTA says to spell out non-APTA certifications and honors.

See a few examples below for how to properly write out non-APTA certifications and honors:

  • Certificate in Dry Needling
  • Certified Functional Manual Therapist
  • Certified Lymphedema Therapist
  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Muscle Activation Techniques
  • Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine

Head to the APTA’s website to learn more about the appropriate use of designations. See full lists of clinical certifications and non-APTA certifications and honors. Check out the examples they have listed so that you can properly identify yourself moving forward…and so your patients see more than just a bunch of letters!

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