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On the US blacklisting of Pinoy PT grads

On July 11, 2010, the United States’  Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) moved to ban PT graduates from the Philippines and three other countries from taking the National Physical Therapist Examinations (NPTE).

“In response to pervasive, ongoing security breaches by significant numbers of graduates of physical therapy schools from certain foreign countries, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT or Federation) will suspend National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) testing for all graduates of schools located in those countries, pending the development of a separate, secure exam for those graduates (to be called the NPTE-YRLY).”

“The affected individuals will include all graduates of physical therapy schools in Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Philippines,” said the FSBPT.

The Federation cited an incident in Manila three years ago when the St. Louis Review Center was raided by the authorities revealing evidences that showed “widespread sharing of hundreds of live test items.”

“The Federation recognizes the significant consequences of this policy decision, but feels that it needs to be made clear to all candidates that the Federation will not tolerate security breaches. We will continue to use and add security measures to protect against possible future breaches and will not hesitate to add other groups to the list restricted to the NPTE-YRLY if we obtain sufficient evidence that members of additional groups may be obtaining an unfair advantage on the NPTE or otherwise jeopardizing the integrity of the exam.”

In response to this, foreign Physical Therapists in the US that were affected by the ban have banded together and launched an online petition against what they called “discrimination” by the US State Boards.

We the undersigned protest this discriminatory action and support the right of law abiding, honest and hard working physical therapists to take the regular NPTE regardless of their nationality. We encourage the FSBPT to use its resources to find an equitable way to deal with any proven test irregularities and/or increase the pool of test questions to alleviate its own concerns about question sharing. If this discriminatory practice is permitted, large numbers of honest and hard working therapists will be prevented from obtaining U.S. licensure. It will also exacerbate a critical shortage of physical therapists in the U.S. which will negatively impact hospitals, long term care and rehab facilities, and mostly importantly, patient care across the U.S.

As of this writing, the online petition has gathered 3801 signatures. Click here to sign the petition.

Victim blaming

The move to ban PT grads from the Philippines smacks of victim blaming as it unfairly makes the graduates suffer for the crimes committed by erring review centers.

Moreover, the order unjustly profiles the PT graduates from Egypt, India, Pakistan and most notably, the Philippines, as cheats in licensure examinations.

The FSBPT order has indeed resurrected the stigma that graduates from the Philippines are below par, as staggeringly depicted by actress Teri Hatcher in this episode from the hit TV series Desperate Housewives where she insulted the entire medical profession of the country.

But the hardest hit from the FSBPT’s order are the hundreds of hopeful Pinoy PT grads who are already in the US waiting for their turn to take this year’s NPTE. For sure, some of them have sold properties here in the Philippines just to raise the money for Visa processing fees, plane fare, examination fees among others. Some have quit their jobs here just so they can concentrate and fully devote their time on preparing for the licensure examination.

Because of the FSBPT’s blacklist, those affected will be coming back to the country penniless and with their American dreams shattered for a crime not of their own doing.

Thus, the Philippine government should support our Filipino PTs and strongly protest this racist and discriminatory order from the FSBPT.

Also, it must undertake steps to crackdown on erring review centers who prey on our hapless students so desperate to leave the country for better jobs overseas.

It is worthy to note that these review centers – that collect exorbitant fees from students while maintaining immoral and iniquitous ties with Philippine Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) so desperate to keep their “passing rates” up – have, in fact, been  conducting their devious schemes here in the country without restraint for quite some time.

It is remembered that the Supreme Court has nullified Executive Order No. 566 which gives the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) regulatory powers over the establishment and operation of review centers . The said EO was passed in response to the 2006 nursing examination mess that was also linked to the illegal practices of these entities.

“The overriding necessity to protect the public against substandard review centers and unethical practices committed by some review centers demand that a regulatory framework for the establishment and operation of review centers and similar entities be immediately instituted,” stated the EO 566.

It is high time that the Philippine government act against the abuses and execcess of these review centers. They deserve the blacklist and not our Filipino PTs.

Too bad for the 434 new PTs and occupational therapists in the country who just passed the Physical and Occupational Therapists Licensure Examinations given by the Philippines’ Board of Physical and Occupational Therapy July this year.

Looks like they’ll have to sit around and wait for a year before they can do what President Noynoy Aquino so proudly told the Filipino nation during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) – to dream.