What is the OCS Credential?

In 1981 the APTA House of Delegates approved board certification in the area of orthopaedics. The first orthopaedics specialist certification examination was administered in 1989. APTA’s House of Delegates adopted a policy that no physical therapist shall purport to be a “Board-Certified Clinical Specialist” unless (s)he has successfully completed the certification process as developed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

The specialist certification program has been designed to identify and define physical therapy specialty areas and to formally recognize physical therapists that have attained advanced knowledge and skills in those areas. Certification also assists the public and health care community in identifying physical therapists with acknowledged expertise in a particular field of practice and demonstrates that physical therapists are devoted to addressing the unique needs of the people with whom they work. Certified specialists have clearly demonstrated their commitment to service by the variety, depth, and consistency of their professional involvement.

The purposes of APTA’s Orthopaedic Clinical Specialization Program are to:[unordered_list style=”bullet”]

  • Assist in the identification and development of appropriate areas of orthopaedic specialty practice in physical therapy.
  • Promote the highest possible level of care for individuals seeking physical therapy services in orthopaedics
  • Promote development of the science and the art underlying the orthopaedic specialty area of practice.
  • Provide a reliable and valid method for certification and recertification of individuals who have attained an advanced level of knowledge and skill in the orthopaedic specialty area.
  • Assist consumers, the health care community, and others in identifying certified clinical specialists in the orthopaedic specialty area.
  • Serve as a resource in specialty practice for APTA, the physical therapy profession, and the health care community.


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