Physical Therapy Credentialing – The Missing Tips!

certification-stampSo there I was: I’d made it through the grueling process of having my physical therapy qualifications credentialed, I’d successfully passed the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), I’d received my State license, and I even had a job offer. I was all set to go get my visa and become a physical therapist in the United States. Little did I know the credentialing process wasn’t finished with me yet. A new nemesis emerged – the VisaScreen Certificate, and without it, I wasn’t going anywhere.

The VisaScreen Certificate is a requirement imposed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all foreign (non-US) non-physician health care workers who wish to work in the United States. It aims to ensure that the foreign worker meets the minimum requirements for training, licensure, and English proficiency in their profession.

Wait a minute. Isn’t that exactly the same as the credentialing process? Well, yes, but then again, no.

It should be the same process, and obtaining one should automatically qualify you for the other, however in practice it doesn’t work that way. The reason for this is that many the State-based licensing authorities will accept credentialing reports from a number of credentialing organisations (for example, Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services currently accepts credentialing reports from four approved organisations), however, DHS currently only accepts the issuance of health care worker certificates for physical therapists from two of these: the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) and the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).

The rationale for this is unclear, especially when you consider that all recognised credentialing authorities must be approved by the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) to use their Course Work Tool (CWT) in order to evaluate a foreign trained physical therapist’s qualifications. What’s worse is that neither of the organisations authorised to issue VisaScreen certificates will accept credentialing reports from any of the other FSBPT approved credentialing organsations*, so if you’ve already had your qualifications credentialed by someone else, you’re going to have to go through the whole process again. As I learned for myself.

Armed with this new information, I can now offer you two additional tips to those I have previously offered for the physical therapy credentialing process.


1. Choose one of the DHS approved organisations

Consider this an addendum to my previous tip on choosing a credentialing authority. While you still have the option of choosing from a number of credentialing services, you will save yourself a lot of time, effort, and expense if you choose one of the (currently) two organisations that can assess you for both licensure and VisaScreen Certificate purposes. Given that if you want to work in the US you must have both of these, it only makes sense to go through the process the one time (and certainly what I would do if I had my time over). At the time of writing, FCCPT offers an all inclusive package for qualification credentialing, English proficiency, and VisaScreen certification, whereas CGFNS offers these as separate services.

If you still choose to use a different credentialing authority to obtain your US State licensure, be aware that at the time of writing this, FCCPT does not offer an evaluation service solely for VisaScreen certification, meaning your only choice then become CGFNS.

2. Be aware of actual versus proposed processing times

Given that I was unaware of the need to obtain any sort of certification beyond my credentialing report, when my future employer’s attorney requested a copy of my VisaScreen certificate the need to obtain one became very urgent.

In addition to my previous advice on waiting times, this time through I discovered a new problem. The organisation I chose advised a four-to-six week processing time from the time they received all the required documents and information to process the application. They also offered an expedited service for an additional fee, which guaranteed a reduction in the processing time to five business days. It seemed perfect – I expected that by the time I got the documents to them (I knew what to send because I’d already been through it) and expedited the process I would have only suffered a delay of about three weeks. What I wasn’t told by the organisation is that upon receipt of my documents, they are scanned into their system before being forwarded on to the person responsible for reviewing them – and the receipt and scanning of the documents takes up to four weeks itself! So the real processing times were a minimum of five weeks, and anywhere up to ten, under optimal circumstances. (As it was it took me about four months to get through this process – bearing in mind it was the holiday season.)

My advice then is to check with the organisation as to what the actual processing times are, and whether there are any additional timeframes other than what they promote through their websites, before selecting one to go with. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to obtain a ‘promised’ turn around time, however it will give you a clearer indication as to how long you can realistically expect to wait. This is also another reason why selecting one organisation to process both your credentialing report and VisaScreen certificate can be beneficial.

Combine these with my other tips and with any luck you will find the credentialing process much easier than has been my experience. Good luck!

Have you been through the credentialing process? What was your experience? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

* At the time of writing, CGFNS have stated that they will accept credentialing reports from the International Consultants of Delaware (ICD), which is a subsidiary of CGFNS.

Has Sorry Lost Its Meaning?


On 26 May this year, the seventeenth National Sorry Day will be observed following the Bringing them Home report, which detailed the findings of the National inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. Before that, on 13 February, it will be seven years since the then Australian Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Both of these days have special significance for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: both recognise impact that past events and policies have had on past, current, and future well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and through saying ‘sorry’, both suggest that there is a desire to make amends.

Yet as we start the new year, it would seem that very little has changed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in any area – health, education, employment, or social justice, just to name a few. While it does appear, at least through social media, that there is increasing public recognition of, and support for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, this does not seem to be translating into changes in public policy, nor actions that will affect real change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

What then does ‘sorry’ mean? Does it mean anything anymore?

I tell my daughter (and anyone else who’ll listen) that ‘sorry’ only means something if you follow it up with appropriate action. That saying ‘sorry’, and then continuing to do the same thing that you’re supposed to be sorry for, means you’re not really sorry at all. In this instance, the only ‘sorrow’ you feel is guilt – either because you know that you should or shouldn’t be doing something, or because you’ve been caught doing it!

‘Sorry’ isn’t about guilt, neither is it about blame. While it could be said that someone saying sorry admits fault, or takes responsibility, for whatever has occurred, this does not always have to be the case. Consider the act of expressing sorrow at someone’s adversity – the loss of a loved one, a traumatic event, or something similar. We may have no part in what has caused the adversity, yet we are still sympathetic to the person who has experienced it. If we have a close association to that person, we most likely also feel that we want to do something about it. We might not be able to alter the event that has already occurred, but we can take actions that can have a direct effect on the person who has experienced them. This isn’t an act of guilt, it’s an act of kindness, consideration, and support, brought about by the desire to effect change.

If the responsibility is ours, then the desire to effect change should be more pronounced, and it would be reasonable to expect that we would then take appropriate action to either make amends, or ensure that the event did not occur again. To do this, there needs to be adequate identification of what the adverse or undesirable event was, so that how and why it occurred can be understood, and appropriate measures taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

This is why when my daughter (or anyone else) tells me they are ‘sorry’ for ‘something’, my usual response is, “what are you sorry for?” If you don’t know what you’re apologising for, you can’t change anything – more than that, you might be trying to apologise for something this is not the crux of the matter, or even something for which you’re not accountable. Without recognising what the apology is for, and whether this is in fact what the apology should be for, ‘sorry’ becomes meaningless – at best it is simply ‘sorry for sorry’s sake’.

This is why then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology had such a profound impact, and was accepted and appreciated by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In his speech, Mr Rudd clearly explained what he, on behalf of the Australian Government, was apologising for, and also expressed his vision of the outcomes that could be achieved following this apology.

At the time there was no question as to the sincerity of the National Apology; many perceived this to be the beginning of real change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, and the start of moving towards true Reconciliation in this country. Yet with continued gaps in health, education, employment, and social justice, continued experiences of discrimination and racism, and continued denial in some sectors that the atrocities of the past, including the Stolen Generations, ever actually occurred, we must wonder whether this apology had any real meaning or value.

As we move through 2015, and these events are brought to our attention, perhaps Australia needs to ask itself: are we sorry for what has happened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? And if so, what is it that we’re sorry for, and what are we going to do about it?

What does ‘sorry’ mean to you? Should Australia be sorry for its past (or present) treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? How do we move forward from here? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Have Pen Will Write – Now Accepting Writing Commissions


As a new venture for 2015, I have decided to make my abilities as a writer available for commission work.

I have been commissioned previously for both fiction and non-fiction works, and have both enjoyed working on these projects, and been very satisfied with the end results. These positive experiences have made me consider the possibility of actively seeking commissions for quite sometime, and after careful consideration, I have decided to do so as of today.

If you are interested in commissioning me for a piece of writing – be it a short article or story, a textbook chapter, a full-length piece of work, or anything else – please visit my new ‘Commission Me‘ page for details.

2015 – A New Year or a Used One?


Have you ever felt like Lucy does in the above Peanuts comic strip? I sure have. As 2014 draws to a close, I’ve found myself thinking that I am not where I wanted to be when the year was about to commence. I’m still facing the same challenges, fighting the same battles, and feeling the same frustrations that I was this time last year. Nothing seems to have changed – this year certainly seems like a replay of the year before.

Of course, that isn’t true at all. When I look back at my life plan it becomes very apparent that I have achieved some great things this year, and made huge inroads into getting to where I want to be. I have made real and definite progress in a number of areas of my life, and while I may not have arrived at where I want to be, where last year it seemed so far away, right now it is within reach. In fact, if we could add a thirteenth month I have no doubt I would have achieved what I wanted to within ‘2014’.

It’s very easy to get trapped into believing that nothing ever changes. When things don’t go our way, or we don’t reach the goals we set ourselves, or life doesn’t seem to be improving, it’s easy to feel defeated and believe that things won’t change. Often we are so focussed on our destination that we fail to recognise how far we’ve come, or how close we are. We become so disheartened that we haven’t reached it, that we can’t appreciate where we are.

The world of Peanuts introduced me to another phrase attributed to the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” There are many ways this can be interpreted, however in the current context it tells us that in order to understand and appreciate where we’re going, we must take time to stop and look back at where we’ve been. Doing this can reveal some very important facts that can help us realise our situations are better than what we might otherwise believe.

If you look back and can see that you have put effort into realising your goals, then you can see that change is occurring. Change is seldom instantaneous. It is a process that takes as long as it needs to take. Consider the caterpillar that changes into a butterfly: it is not one moment a caterpillar and the next a butterfly – it must undergo a process of change that takes time and effort. So it is with achieving our goals. Where we are now, and where we want to be, seldom sit side-by-side. There is a process we must undertake to make that change, and as long as we are directing effort into it, then change will be occurring.

When you can see the change occurring, you will also realise that you are making progress. If you look objectively at where you were, to where you are now, you will see how far you’ve come, and all the little victories and successes that have helped you get as far as you have. These are positive things that often get lost when we only look forward, however they should be recognised and celebrated as the achievements they are. These milestones can energize you, and give you the strength and encouragement to keep moving forwards and reach your final goal.

There are only two circumstances when things truly fail to change, or when progress is truly absent: when we do nothing at all, or when we do exactly the same thing we’ve always done. If you are looking for something ‘new’ in the coming year, then you must look at what you want to change, and then put effort into changing it. Part of that might just be realising that what needs to change is what you’re doing, rather than trying to change things by doing the same thing.

For me, I 2014 has definitely been a new year, full of achievements that have brought me closer to where I want to be, and I expect 2015 will be a very new year indeed.

Will it be a new or used year for you?

You tell me.

I would like to take this time to extend a big thanks to all of you who have been reading my articles throughout the year, and an extra special thanks to those of you who subscribe and leave comments. Please feel free to extend my thoughts sharing my articles through the social media links below each article.

I wish you all the best for the New Year, and look forward to continuing to share my thoughts with you throughout 2015.


Knowing When To Do Nothing



There is a concept in Taoism known as Wu Wei – literally ‘no action’, and often interpreted as ‘do nothing’. It goes hand-in-hand with another concept, Wu Bu Wei – ‘not no action’, or ‘do everything’ [1.] Those who study Taoist philosophy seek to achieve harmony in their lives by doing nothing and doing everything. The idea of doing everything is one that’s probably familiar to all of us: from the moment we wake up we attend to the tasks, chores, and activities of our day right up to the point we close our eyes to sleep again. Doing nothing, however, is a stranger concept. It does not mean being slothful, lazy, or apathetic. Instead, it is about recognising the times when there is nothing you can, or should do – that the right course of action is to not act.

It is a challenging concept to get one’s head around, so let me try to illustrate with an example. Think about the last time you had an argument with someone. It may have been over something of significance to one or both of you, or it may have been – in hindsight – over nothing. If you go back and think about it, you can probably see that it all started from something that was said or done that induced an emotional response in one of you. That response got expressed, which led to an emotional response in the other person, and back and forth it went. Like many arguments it probably heated up as it continued on, perhaps it even got out control and one or both of you were yelling at the other. Chances are at least one of you got their feelings hurt. (If so, hopefully you’ve resolved that by the time you’re reading this!)

Think of that argument as a timeline, like a scene from a movie. You can probably see how the argument started from nothing, and then developed into a full-blown argument. You can probably also see that it took two people to have that argument. Even if it was just one person berating the other, it still took the interaction of both for the argument to happen. Now imagine you can edit that scene. You can move along that timeline and pick a point and edit what happened at that moment. What might have happened if, at some point in the timeline, one of you had stopped arguing? It may have been as simple as saying, “stop, I don’t want to argue anymore”, or perhaps it needed one of you to walk away. If one of you had simply stopped, could there even have been an argument? And if there was no argument, could the problem have been solved faster, easier, or better?

This is where doing nothing becomes important. Using this example, you can think of the argument as doing everything. In fact, you probably are doing everything while arguing – yelling, shouting, trying to put forward, or impose, or defend, your view, and getting emotional. You’re trying to ‘win’, and you will do everything to ‘win’ – and sometimes, ‘winning’ leads to some very undesirable outcomes. If you’ve ever ‘won’ an argument but didn’t feel better for it, you’ll understand what I mean.

To not argue, or cease arguing, is to do nothing. It does not mean turning your back and walking away (though in some instances that might be what it takes). Rather, it is about recognising that continued action is not going to make the situation any better, nor achieve the outcome you really want. In that case it is better to cease your actions – to do nothing – and in doing so, avoid creating a new problem through arguing. As my Tai Chi master says, “you can’t resolve a problem while ever someone is trying to fight you. It is only when they stop fighting you can sit and have tea and work out what the problem is.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course it’s easy to say, yet much more difficult to put into practice. I’m going through a process now which, for the moment, is out of my control, and all I can do is nothing. And yet, for my life to go forward in the way I want it to, this process must happen, and quickly. I have people who need me and who are relying on me to get this done. I have opportunities that are dependent on this happening. And for my own well-being, I need this resolved. The fact that it is taking time is very oppressive and hard to deal with – it’s causing unnecessary strain on me and those I love. I feel responsible and I feel I need to do something to change it – I am trying to do everything, because I’m afraid if I don’t I will lose what it is I’m striving for. Yet the reality is that there is simply no more I can do until it is put back into my hands. I need to do nothing. I know this, and I know that in doing nothing I will be better off, but knowing and doing are often different things, aren’t they? So I am trying to do nothing, however I will be the first to admit it’s not easy.

We can all reflect on our lives and find instances where it seemed that no matter what we did, not matter how hard we tried, no matter how much effort we put into something, we didn’t get to where we wanted to be. We often think that if we stop, everything stops; that inactivity is somehow detrimental to achieving. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is like sailing: you can hoist your sails and work your lines and rigging all you want, however if you’re sailing against the wind, you won’t get very far. But if you stop, and just let the wind fill your sails, you’ll find it takes you to where you need to be.

The trick is not to just do nothing, but to know when to do nothing. And as the Taoists say, in doing nothing, leave nothing undone.

1. Zhao, Qiguang. (2010). Do nothing and do everything: an illustrated new Taosim. Minnesota: Paragon House.


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