Division faculty member appointed to Physical Therapy Board of California

dominguezBy John Hobbs MA ’14

USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy faculty member Jesus Dominguez MPT ’88, Ph.D. ’02 was appointed to a four-year term on the Physical Therapy Board of California by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 3.

By joining the state regulatory body, Dominguez, an assistant professor and chair of the admissions committee for DPT students, becomes the seventh sitting member on the committee and holds the only academic spot. The Physical Therapy Board of California consists of four licensed physical therapists and three public members who are charged with overseeing the practice of physical therapy throughout the Golden State.

Typical boardmember tasks include verifying a physical therapist’s education and background prior to licensure, providing information about the physical therapy profession and investigating consumer complaints against physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.

“It’s a unique opportunity for me to contribute significantly to serving the public interest while holding physical therapists licensed by the PTBC to the highest standards of practice and ethical conduct,” Dominguez said. “I can’t recall ever having been in the position to be able to serve both the community as well as the profession that has given me so much for which to be thankful over the past 26 years. This service appointment would allow me to do just that.”

One of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ nearly 30 regulatory bodies, the Physical Therapy Board of California is focused on protecting consumers by ensuring physical therapists reach a benchmark of quality.

It’s a task made even more urgent after Gov. Brown signed AB 1000 into law, which gives Californians direct access to physical therapists, without physician referral, for 45 calendar days or 12 appointments, whichever comes first. This new law, effective Jan. 1, 2014, establishes physical therapists as a potential first-stop for patients seeking relief from pain, furthering the evolution of a physical therapist as member of the health care provider team.

“My feeling is that the education of physical therapy practitioners should reflect this heightened level of responsibility,” Dominguez said, “and that the PTBC is now called upon to take a more vigilant stance in helping to oversee the safe and effective delivery of direct-access physical therapy services.”

Dominguez said he looked forward to continuing to watch the role of the physical therapist evolve. A physical therapist must now not only recognize when it is appropriate to provide treatment but also when it is appropriate to refer patients to a different health care provider, he said.

“It is an exciting time for our profession in the state of California and I consider myself fortunate to be able to participate in the forthcoming discussions and render my opinions on practice issues that the PTBC will consider during the next four years of my appointment,” said Dominguez whose term ends June 1, 2018.

Dominguez received both his master’s of physical therapy and his doctor of philosophy degree in biokinesiology from USC, which has the No. 1 ranked physical therapy program in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report. He became an adjunct faculty member at the division in 1993, before pursuing his Ph.D. degree from 1996 to 2002. He returned as an adjunct faculty member afterward before being promoted to a full-time faculty position in 2004.

“I feel that the level of education that I received from USC in my day was second to none and fostered in me an appreciation of the value in considering all sides of a particular medical condition or patient presentation or argument with equal attentiveness so that I would arrive at the best possible informed decision,” He said. “It is my sense that I will likely find that approach to be of particular usefulness as a newly-appointed member of the PTBC.”