New physical therapy (PT) candidates across the United States hoping to work as physical therapists in their jurisdictions are receiving a very sad letter. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), which oversees and administers physical therapy exams, is withholding the test scores of all new Filipino applicants (Philippines) due to the actions of a couple of review centers in Manila.
According to FSBPT's own web site, the drama unfolded on January 26, 2007:
On Friday, January 26, 2007, agents of the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation, Intellectual Property Rights Division (“NBI-IPRD”) raided two locations of the St. Louis Review Center (“SLRC”) in Manila. The raids were conducted following a complaint made by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (“FSBPT”) that SLRC was believed to be using copyrighted test items from the National Physical Therapy Exam (“NPTE”) in its NPTE preparation courses.
Prior to the raids, agents of the NBI-IPRD conducted a criminal surveillance operation of the test centers, which confirmed the unlawful use of the test items. Specifically, SLRC was found to be providing its students with copies of actual NPTE test items that candidates who had previously taken the exam recalled by memory..."
From what I gather, certain individuals were purposely memorizing questions on the board exam and returning/selling those questions back to the review centers in Manila.
FSBPT's president, E. Dargan Ervin, Jr., along with other officials from the organization has decided to hold and not report any test scores of any new candidates from the Philippines effective May 16th, 2007.
As a result, effective May 16th, scores of all candidates who graduated from Philippine physical therapy education programs and sat for the National Physical Therapy Examination [NPTE] will be held and not reported to candidates or jurisdictions pending a full investigation of these matters. In its investigation, FSBPT will psychometrically analyze the data, and seek input from the testing community, legal staff, jurisdictions and government authorities of the Philippines."
Firstly, I'm not a physical therapist, but many of my friends and family members are. I'm angry towards those that tried to cheat the system, who selfishly thought they could get away with something like this. Why not concentrate your efforts on studying and learning rather than cheating?
Secondly, I'm angry at FSBPT. The decision they have made here is a knee jerk reaction (no pun intended). This is a massive, discriminatory, countrywide action against a specific race of people. This type of discriminatory action is illegal in almost all business settings. For instance, try saying, all African-Americans (blacks) are now banned from getting the results of their scores for their driver's license test because some blacks cheated. You would have several hundreds of protestors right outside of DMV offices across the United States.
The Philippines's medical/health schools has tried to answer the medical needs of America. The schools have provided quality nurses and physical therapists, and have done so with honor. These Filipino health workers study, apply for visa screens, educate themselves in U.S. laws and practices, and fly over 10,000 miles to take this test legally only to be spit at. Many of those that fly over have spent their life's savings just to take this test, they do so wanting to make sure they come to the United States legally and to work here legally.
To punish an entire country because of a few idiots is tragic, unethical, and to me, illegal. It is my hope that the investigation is completed quickly, and I hope there is a better process in FSBPT to tackle these problems rather than punishing an entire country.
What should I do?
You could sit and wait and hope for the best. But if you do not like discrimination, if you do not like abuse of power, here are some suggestions:
1. You can fax FSBPT at (703) 299-3110, and call them at (703) 299-3100 and write to them at 509 Wythe Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. You should also e-mail them at: Administrator@fsbpt.org. It is important that you send and communicate your dissatisfaction across all lines of communication, to make sure they receive the message.
2. Even if you are not a candidate, if you disagree with the discriminatory actions taken by the FSBPT that affects the life savings of thousands of candidates and applicants, you should communicate your dissatisfaction to FSBPT. Please be cordial as possible, along the lines of: "While I agree that an investigation needs to be conducted, I disagree with discriminating against an entire country."
3. If you are a U.S. citizen, write to your congressman and senator.
4. Write to your attorney general's office (U.S. citizen or legal resident) and ask for an investigation on the legality of such discriminatory practices.
5. Write to your physical therapy state board body.
6. Contact all Asian and Filipino associations and ask them if they should tolerate FSBPT's discriminatory actions, especially on Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
7. If you are a lawyer or know of a lawyer in your state, ask them if they know of any state statutes that FSBPT may have broken since their ban is across all states.
8. Contact physical therapy associations in your state and lobby for support.