OPTA/OPTLB - Lots of letters: what do they mean? 

by OPTLB Liaison, Susan Bamberger

Many years ago, I was chair of the OPTA membership committee. One of the things I learned in that role is that many people do not understand the difference between the Oregon Physical Therapy Association (OPTA) and the OPTLB Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board (OPTLB). Today, I serve as the OPTA liaison for the OPTLB. This gives me the opportunity to maintain the collaborative relationship the OPTA has with the OPTLB.

Over the years, the staff at the OPTLB have been a valuable source of education for Physical Therapists and Assistants on the subjects of ethics and jurisprudence. They have been sought feedback from the OPTA in developing rules surrounding direct access, tele-health, and have been national leaders in implementation of the PT compact. However, they are not the OPTA, and in no way are related.

The OPTA is a member driven organization, tied to a national non-profit organization representing PT’s and PTA’s nationwide. Its role is to advance and support the PT profession. The OPTLB is a regulatory licensing authority staffed by employees of the state of Oregon. They issue licenses and perform investigations as needed in relation to the safety of the public.

My hope is to help PT’s and PTA’s understand the difference between these very important groups. In addition, I hope to educate members as to the value of each entity in supporting and promoting our profession. Over the next few months, I am publishing a series of interviews with the staff of the OPTLB. This interview is with Sherri Paru, Clinical Advisor and Investigator for the OPTLB.

Sherri Paru - Clinical Advisor and Investigator for the Oregon Physical Therapist Licensing Board

Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

I received my PT degree from Ithaca College in 1991. My clinical expertise is in neuro rehab, but I also worked for two years as a traveling PT so I have had exposure to many different settings as a PT.

The OPTLB is unique in there are clinicians on staff.  The benefit of this is that I have the clinical background, and when doing an investigation, I can often see the issues from the perspective of a licensee.

What is your primary role with the licensing board?

I serve in two roles with the Board.  I process and investigate complaints against licensees.  I gather all of the facts in a case then write a report and present the information to the Board for vote at a Board meeting.   I also serve as a resource for clinicians and the public about the statutes and rules governing the practice of PT in Oregon.

How long have you served in this position?

I have served in this position since July, 2002.

Can you describe some of your outreach activities?

Every year, I visit each PT and PTA program in the state to provide information regarding the role of the Board, ethical considerations when entering the profession and the licensing process. In addition, Board staff regularly attends OPTA and other professional meetings to answer questions and concerns from licensees. 

Can you describe your national involvement in the field? 

I currently serve on the Nominating Committee for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and as an item writer for the National PT Examination.  I have also lectured nationally for several organizations, including the APTA on the topics of ethics and professional boundaries in the practice of PT.

Thank you, Sherri for all of your hard work and for being a great resource for PT’s, PTA’s and patients alike!

The Next OPTLB meeting is scheduled for Friday May 17. Public session typically begins around 12:00. All are welcome!