Legality Schmeegality

I don’t really like blogs that are a pointless rant, so I promise I’ll try to keep this productive and at least a little informative for anyone who hasn’t yet been through  getting a new state license.

Kate and I are currently seeking our Washington and Alaska licenses for some potential work this coming summer. We have 4 licenses in common; I have Illinois and Vermont, and she has Florida, 7 states total. To simplify things, we’ve dropped being current in all but two states, our Home State which is the Vacation State (seems contradictory), and Colorful Colorado. Simplify? Yeah, I thought so, until both Alaska and Washington requested official license verification from every state where I hold or have ever held a license as part of their PT License Application. That’s a spousal-total of 11 licenses that need verifying through mostly snail mail and hand written checks. Who uses mail and checks!?!? Even the USPS has online options so that you don’t have to use the mail!

The Best:

1. Florida – $25 and an online submission will get you verified

2. Colorado – No fee and you may fax your request.

 

The Worst:

1. Hawaii – For only $15 per request you can have a verification sent within 20 days of receipt of your written request via mail.

2. Vermont – Written request. They’ll deposit your check and then have no record of your request.    <– happened to me

3. Illinois – Don’t bother calling, you’ll be on hold for 2 hours.

 

So, back to point, I’ve spent four hours getting these 2 applications together and probably have another 2 hours to go. Most of this time is a result of pre-internet legislation that dictates you do things as you would when mail and and personal checks were pretty much your only options. Part of the reason these laws have persisted is that no one likes to open their practice acts. When a practice act is modified, it offers a chance for other professions and interests to alter the law for their benefit as opposed to the benefit of PTs, PTAs, and patients. HOWEVER! Should you find yourself in a state with an open practice act and the chance to have your voice heard, please beg that licensure be brought into the 21st century, argue against the arbitrary barriers that keep well qualified professionals from practicing in a place that could probably use them, and educate your colleagues on the difficulties these laws place on state employees who must waste their time dealing with all kinds of paperwork for information quickly and easily available on the internet (fsbpt.org).

Really, I’m being a little melodramatic. Getting your license in a new state is generally a matter of paperwork, if your status as a PT/PTA is healthy, there’s no reason you won’t be licensed if you can get the paperwork to the right places in a timely matter. We’ve been licensed in many states now and have a greater burden because of it, if you’ve only worked in one state, it’s pretty straight forward.

Well I have to run, I’ve got some applications to fill out and an currently open Colorado Practice Act to leave my mark on.  🙂

Patients! They’re everywhere, AHHHHH!

The first story that has to be told from my recent trip to Tulum, Mexico is about the nice lady (a.k.a. crazy wacko) I sat next to on the plane.

As therapists, you see people who could use your services everywhere: the kid walking down the street using his crutch on the wrong side, the old man whose family is struggling to get him into the car, or just Aunt Ida chatting away at Thanksgiving dinner about her bunions. Aunt Ida aside, I try not to let my desire to get involved in these people’s lives take over. Aside from all the practical reasons not to get involved, there’s an ethical line that gets crossed when an off-duty healthworker starts injecting his/her opinions into a person’s private life.

Be careful, patients are everywhere and they want your PT brain.

While I frequently have to restrain getting involved, this past week’s experience was different… I wanted to run away. As I settled in for the 4-hour flight into Cancun, the lady next to me started telling me how she would be getting up frequently because of her debilitating back pain. I immediately recoiled into defense mode. How could I keep her from finding out I’m a PT? How would I read JOSPT without giving away my secret identity? I am not treating this  lady for the next 4 hours, this is my VACATION!!! ….and this patient was clearly CRAZY! Keep it to yourself, lady!

What went on for the next 4 hours was a delicate dance: She would ask me to get her carry-on down from the over-head. I would stash my PT magazines behind safety manuals in the seatback pocket. She would pace in the isles. Other passengers would uneasily wonder why. She would intermittently display her gabapentin bottle on the tray table. I would try to disguise JOSPT while reading by sliding as far to the opposite side of the seat as possible. She would talk on-and-on about her back pain, and I would nod politely.

When it came close to time to land, I thought I had made it through without revealing my secret, but there was one more test. My single serving friend had one more piece of information to make my blood boil. She was looking forward to her quick trip through customs and baggage claim. “You know, if you ask for a wheelchair, the airlines have to give you one.”

So, back in the terminal, as I stood in the hour-long customs line, I looked to the side and saw her cruising by in the wheel chair. She had won again, the crazy bird gets the worm.

Be careful on your travels this Thanksgiving weekend, patients are everywhere. Don’t trust Aunt Ida, I think she’s hiding something.