Whether you are a new grad or tenured therapist, it’s important to not only maintain the integrity of the profession we represent, but to protect your professional license at all times. Typically travelers are juggling multiple licenses at a time. Each has different laws & different requirements. Here are a few tips for protecting the license you’ve worked so hard to earn while on the road.
Know what you CAN and CANNOT do in each state you are practicing in!
Whether you are required to take a jurisprudence exam to gain licensure in your current state of practice or not, you are required to know what you CAN and CANNOT do in that particular state. PTs, OTs, and SLPs must practice within the scope of physical/occupational/speech therapy practice defined by each state. These are typically in the form of state practice acts, statutes, and laws & regulations.
Are their procedures you can perform in some states, but not others? How many PTAs can a PT supervise? How many COTAs can an OT supervise? Do you have to have a certain level of experience to treat patients via direct access?
What are the procedures for renewing each license? What continuing education requirements does each state require?
To search for your practice act by state and discipline, click here!
Only perform skills you are competent to perform
I attended a great lecture at this years’ Traveler’s Conference about protecting your license. Here was a key take-away…Facilities don’t necessary care about your comfort level. Instead of saying, “I’m not comfortable with ____”, say, “I’m not competent to perform ____”.
Know when to REFER out! The scope of our practice is incredibly broad and one cannot be competent in everything. For example, if you are not certified in lymphedema, women’s health, hand therapy, vestibular therapy, etc., you may need to refer the patient out to someone who specializes in the treatment of their disorder. Knowing your weaknesses and deficiencies is actually a strength. No one benefits when you employ the “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy.
Stay up-to-date on compliance and billing practice for Medicare, Medicaid, and Commercial insurances.
APTA, AOTA, and ASHA are great resources. If you are a member of your professional organization, they likely offer free webinars on these topics for members.
Utilize the CMS website. There’s nothing better than retrieving your information from the original source. While it may seem like a lot of information to sift through, this is an incredibly informative resource for all therapists.
Address deficient areas through credible online CEUs. One great option I’ve found useful personally is MedBridge. Click here to subscribe now and receive $175 off an annual subscription.
Make sure you are covered!
Do you have professional liability insurance – are you covered through your agency? What type of policy? In most circumstances, agencies are required to carry professional liability insurance for you, but what does that coverage look like? Would you be protected in the event that something happened?
For peace of mind, consider enrolling in your own professional liability insurance plan. I personally subscribe to HPSO.
If you’re unsure about something, DON”T DO IT!
Stay safe and only perform procedures that you are competent to perform and are legal in your state jurisdiction. If you are unsure if you are allowed to perform a particular procedure in your new state, DON”T DO IT! For example, grade IV manipulations are not legal in California, dry needling is not allowed in all states, etc.
If you are missing a post-surgical protocol, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Start with basic treatment strategies you know for certain are not contra-indicated until you are able to reach the surgeon’s office to obtain the protocol.
Utilize resources offered to you by your agency…
Make use of your mentor. I’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again. It is so so so important for new graduates to have a mentor with experience in the same practice setting as their assignment. This mentor should be vetted through multiple performance reviews. This way, you can know that the advice you are receiving is trustworthy and legitimate. Unfortunately, new graduates are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Just because there’s another therapist on-site, doesn’t mean that they are a good therapist who is providing the best advice. A lot of times, director of rehabs’ bonuses are based on their staffs’ productivity. Therefore, it is essential that all new grads have a non-biased and trusted resource to utilize while on the road. If something doesn’t feel right, let your recruiter know and reach out to your mentor (the sooner the better!). Need help finding an agency and a vetted recruiter that can make this happen? Click here!
Your agency may have a clinical liaison. Not all companies have one, so ask your recruiter for more information.