UPDATE: AS OF JULY 26th, 2017:
The Veterinary Medical Board decided to REJECT the common-sense language pertaining to licensed physical therapists certified in canine rehabilitation as offered by their Animal Rehabilitation Task Force at their April 13 meeting. They decided to change the language from allowing the veterinarian to decide the level of supervision to mandating DIRECT supervision of these qualified practitioners and only allowing them to practice on a veterinary premise. Yes, it appears that they defaulted to wanting to pursue their agenda which would monopolize the veterinary profession despite having their OWN Task Force recommend a much more common-sense approach to allow for consumer choice and access by way of creating a legislative fix.
Should they continue to pursue their own language, the monopolization will result in shutting down successful practices providing quality care to animals in communities around California.
Interestingly, they thought it made sense to allow any unlicensed veterinary assistant without ANY training at all to practice under direct supervision, but if you are a licensed physical therapist, they want to mandate that the physical therapist has to have additional training to work under the same provision. With this kind of conclusion, there may just be special financial interests driving the decisions rather than consumer interests.
Stay tuned! Passing regulations and legislation is a marathon, so stay informed and stay active. Together we will continue to march forward to make meaningful change in the best interest of the CONSUMER rather than the veterinarians.
WRITE THE VMB BEFORE APRIL 13, 2017. TEMPLATE LETTER CLICK HERE.
California Veterinary Medical Board Poised to Expand Animal Health Care Options
Ask the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) to support the recommendation from their appointed task force to allow veterinarians to refer pets to a physical therapist certified in animal rehabilitation working on a premises that meets state health and safety standards.
CVMB Board Meeting: April 19, 2017 Oakland, Calif.
WHAT? Animal physical rehabilitation is the treatment of injury or illness to address pain and improve function by means of physical treatment. Treatments are performed by veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and licensed physical therapists with advanced training and certification. Under existing law, licensed physical therapists with advanced training and certification are not allowed to treat animal patients on their own premises, even after a veterinarian has evaluated and referred the animal for treatment.
WHO? On April 19, 2017, the CVMB will vote on a recommendation* made by the Animal Rehabilitation Taskforce to expand consumer choices and pet health care options.
WHY? As our love and respect for our pets has grown, so has the desire that they live pain-free and healthy lives. Physical therapist techniques are providing thousands of pets, including horses, relief from painful and debilitating injuries, surgeries, sore muscles, aging joints and many more ailments. Growing public awareness about the positive benefits of animal physical rehabilitation treatments is increasing the demand for services. To meet this demand, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, veterinarians, and veterinarian technicians are receiving specialized training to become certified animal rehabilitation therapists to effectively and safely expand consumer access to high-quality animal physical rehabilitation services.
If passed by the CVMB, this recommendation would expand health care options for consumers by allowing veterinarians to refer and provide medical clearance for pets to a licensed physical therapist certified in animal rehabilitation who is working on a premises that meets state health and safety standards, as determined by both the CVMB and the Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC). Such referrals would be authorized only after a veterinarian has conducted a thorough medical examination and determined physical rehabilitation would be a beneficial treatment option. Under this provision, a veterinarian would be required to provide some degree of supervision (level of supervision to be determined by the veterinarian) over the rehabilitation treatment plan and the certified therapist would be required to collaborate with the veterinarian to ensure optimal care.
WRITE THE BOARD TODAY. Let the CVMB know that you support the recommendation of their appointed Animal Rehabilitation Taskforce. If adopted, this recommendation would help expand access to high-quality health care for consumers in need. Please send your support letter(s) to: Members, California Veterinary Medical Board, 1747 N. Market Blvd. Suite 230, Sacramento, CA 95834. cc: Bill Gage, Chief Consultant to Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee cc: Leondra Clark-Harvey, Chief Consultant to Assembly Business and Professions Committee OR email to all of the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for a template letter of support
Request that your letter be distributed to the entire Board for consideration if you cannot make the meeting in person. The meeting will be held on April 19, 2017 and is open to the public. You are encouraged to attend and testify during public comment. Location of the meeting is: The Waterfront Hotel, 10 Washington Street, Oakland, CA and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.
Frequently Asked Questions: Animal Rehabilitation and Physical Therapists
Q: What is the Animal Rehabilitation Taskforce?
A: Increased public demand for animal rehabilitation services and concern for protecting the consumer from unqualified practitioners motivated the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) to create new regulations and/or legislation. The CVMB appointed a stakeholder task force to provide recommendations regarding the best approach to ensure consumer protection in the specialty niche of animal physical rehabilitation. The Veterinary Medical Board will vote on the task force’s recommendation on April 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
Q: What is Animal Physical Rehabilitation?
A: Animal physical rehabilitation is the treatment of injury or illness to address pain and improve function by means of physical treatment. Animal physical rehabilitation treats a variety of pet ailments, including pre and post surgery, orthopedic problems, geriatric challenges, neurologic impairments, pain management, and more. Physical rehabilitation treatments are provided by veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and licensed and certified physical therapists.
Q: Is Animal Rehabilitation New?
A: No. However, it is an emerging health care option for thousands of Californians and their pets. Animal rehabilitation using licensed physical therapists was first implemented in Oregon in 1975. Since then, common-sense laws that lend way for consumer protection and choice have been adopted in six additional states.
Q: Animals can’t say where ‘it hurts’; are physical therapists qualified to work on animals?
A: Yes. Licensed physical therapists certified in animal rehabilitation are highly qualified to treat pets, including horses. They have done so for decades and have a demonstrated record of success. To become certified, physical therapists receive training on animal behavior, animal handling, anatomy, comparative physiology, biomechanics, pathology, infectious diseases, musculoskeletal imaging, and much more. They learn how to detect pain and how to identify red flags for pets who would be better served by other forms of medical treatments at their primary veterinarian. All advanced training courses to meet the competencies stated above are reviewed and approved by the Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE)—a program provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) that provides the veterinary standard to ensure quality continuing education. In addition to coursework, physical therapists are required to intern with a qualified animal rehabilitation therapist or veterinarian prior to earning their certification to work on animals.
Q: As a consumer, how would I know this proposal protects animal safety?
A: A few things point to the success and safety of animal rehabilitation provided by licensed physical therapists with advanced training / certification in animal rehabilitation. First, seven states—Colorado, Nevada, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Utah, Oregon, and Virginia—have already adopted indirect supervision models of health care for animal physical rehabilitation. This model allows veterinarians to refer qualified animal patients to advanced trained and certified physical therapists for treatment without mandating that the service be rendered with a veterinarian onsite. Indirect supervision also requires veterinarians to retain control over animal patient care and the animal’s rehabilitation plan. Second, after 73+ aggregate years of practice, no consumer complaints or disciplinary actions have been taken against a physical therapist working in a state that operates under an indirect supervision model (again, a model in which the veterinarian is not mandated to be on the same premises). Instead, the demand for services has grown and animal rehabilitation industries, like in Colorado, are flourishing as a result.
Q: Could a physical therapist practice on my animal without a veterinarian’s approval?
A: No. The recommendation provided to the CVMB requires consumers to ensure their pet undergoes a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian and receives a medical clearance and referral noting the animal could safely benefit from animal physical rehabilitation treatment services.
Q: My veterinarian has an animal physical therapist working on her premises, would this prevent me from obtaining physical therapy services at her location or elsewhere?
A: No. The taskforce recommendation expands consumer choice; it does not restrict choice. You would still be able to receive animal physical rehabilitation on a veterinarian’s premises. In the event that animal rehabilitation services are not provided at your veterinarian’s office, you could seek treatment by a licensed physical therapist certified in animal rehabilitation who is working at a location that meets health and safety standards as established by both the CVMB and the Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC).
Q: Should I be worried if my licensed and certified animal rehabilitation physical therapist works at her or his own business premises, and not at the veterinarian’s office?
A: No. Not any more than you would worry about your own physical therapist and his or her facilities. As with our own medical care, when caring for pets it’s important for consumers to take the necessary precautions to educate themselves on the quality of services provided by an individual practitioner. The taskforce recommendation bolsters safety further by permitting licensed physical therapists certified in animal rehabilitation to only operate on premises that meet state health and safety standards as determined by both the CVMB and the PTBC. The Animal Physical Rehabilitation premises would be subject to inspections by the Board to ensure public safety.
Q: Why is the April 19 vote by the CVMB on animal rehabilitation so important?
A: California’s statutes and regulations governing animal physical rehabilitation limit, rather than expand, consumer choices for quality animal rehabilitation. Under existing California law, qualified physical therapists are strictly prohibited from opening practices of their own, even if the qualified physical therapists would be acting upon the approval and referral of a veterinarian. An affirmative vote on the taskforce recommendation would expand choices for consumers and ensure consumer protection by requiring licensed physical therapists to take additional coursework on animals.
Q: Why does the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) oppose the taskforce recommendation?
A: The CVMA is a trade association organized to protect the interests of veterinarians. They are accustomed to hierarchal control over pet health care. Unfortunately, times have changed. Animal health care is slow to shift toward the delivery of collaborative health care services among allied professionals and this can lead to reduction of consumer choices. Keep in mind, it is unrealistic to think that consumers and pets can get 100% of their health care needs met at their local veterinarian’s office. Instead, California consumers should be provided opportunities to access a broader array of qualified animal health care options, including animal physical rehabilitation.
*The Animal Rehabilitation Taskforce’s recommendation to the CVMB:
“California licensed physical therapists with advanced certification in Animal Physical Rehabilitation (APR) (with such certification to be defined by the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) and Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC) working cooperatively) may provide APR under the degree of supervision to be determined by the veterinarian who has established the Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) on a veterinary premises or APR premises (as defined in regulation by the CVMB and PTBC working cooperatively), or a range setting."
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