Dr. Amy Konvalin, MSPT, DMT, PhD, OCS, FAAOMPT – WHAT?!? I am often asked what all those letters stand for that are listed behind my name. And, what are the letters that are listed behind other therapists’ names? To start, let me begin by explaining the entry level Physical Therapy degree.
In the early 1950’s, a Baccalaureate Degrees (BS) was the entry level degree for Physical Therapists. In 1979, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) House of Delegates adopted the resolution that the entry level degree for Physical Therapy would be a post-baccalaureate degree and schools starting shifting to the Master of Science (MS) as the entry level degree. In 2000, the APTA released the Vision 2020 which stated that physical therapy services would be delivered by doctors of physical therapy (DPT). So, the entry level degree that each Physical therapist holds is largely dependent on the time frame in which they graduated. The curriculum has changed significantly over the years to meet the rigors of a DPT program and due to the advancements in medical research that have occurred over the years.
Since I graduated in 2000, the same year that Vision 2020 was released, I received a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. As I grew in my practice, the demands of Vision 2020 weighed heavily on my mind. Would I do a transitional program to earn my Doctor of Physical Therapy? Would I get advanced training through a fellowship program? After moving to Washington State in 2006, my plan slowly unfolded.
The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers an Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS). This involves passing a rigorous 8 hour exam that is written each year by Physical Therapists who are experts in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy. It is grueling and I am grateful to have passed the exam in 2011.
I earned my Doctor of Manual Therapy (DMT) in 2011 by completing a year of classes and advanced clinical instruction followed by research to support my dissertation topic. When I completed this degree, I felt comfortable that I had met the APTA’s desire of Vision 2020. But, I wasn’t done yet!
Back to school I went for another year of intense study and clinical instruction followed by a written and practical examination. When I had successfully completed these, I earned Fellow status in the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT). This is akin to the fellowships doctors go through during their training. Although not required in the physical therapy profession, it is highly recommended to continue learning and advancing skills in the clinical setting.
Well, after all this it was only one more year of school and a dissertation to earn my Doctor of Philosophy in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (PhD). ONLY!
I hope this helps to explain the “alphabet soup” behind my name a little better and give you some knowledge as a consumer when you see these letters behind the names of other Physical Therapists. And, if they have different letters behind their names, please feel free to ask them about it! I guarantee you, if they took the time and energy to earn those letters they are more than happy to share that information with you!