Should we bring back the GCS credential?

In 2016 APTA House of Delegates passed RC 4-16 in an effort to encourage members to spell out certifications so that they have greater value and are better understood by the public. The assumption was that the average consumer does not understand what the ABPTS certification abbreviations indicated, but they would understand seeing it spelled out that a PT is a “specialist.”

The APTA Website indicates that therapists should “spell out these certifications whenever there is room to accommodate them.”

My concern is that there has been no guidance for locations where there is not enough room to accommodate the full written name of the certification. There appear to be many situations where this is the case: Electronic Health Record Software typically does not leave room for the full name of the certification, Professional Journals do not typically write out the full name of certifications by each author, even the websites of sections of the APTA do not seem to leave space for full certification designation on several of their pages. I am concerned that the designation of Board-Certified Specialist is being left off altogether at times in an attempt to be in compliance with the APTA instructions to no longer use the credentials/abbreviations.

I respectfully request we encourage our individual state delegates to consider leading the way in reinstating the ABPTS credentials at some level through an amendment to RC 4-16 to ensure those who have earned the honor of being a Board-Certified Specialist are recognized not just by the public, but also by professionals who know what value those credentials represent.

I agree ! In pelvic health we are not allowed to add pelvic health certificate like we can add CEEAA in geriatrics.
I agree, The length of the specialist notation is not always used or used incorrectly as GCS just to be recognized!!
The board certified geriatric specialists should trump all other geriatric certificates
I find it difficult to read that the falls and balance and expert exercise course is marketed ass needed by those with a GCS.

If so, the additional information should be available to your certified specialists to
Maintain their level of expertise.

Otherwise, it appears to be a money making course rather than a promotion of best
Practice as GSC should have all current and related information for exercise and balance to pass the exam and maintain their status.
The Geriatric academy has the responsibility as well as the board certified specialists to
maintain their high level of knowledge. Otherwise, why take the test if not valued and maintained?
Therefore the CEEAA and Balance and falls should be marketed as training for GSC or individual training as needed.

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I understand the sentiment and have seen PTs keep the GCS designation to demonstrate expertise where space is limited i.e. in publications, roster, official positions.
I have done this myself when I posted officers for FPTA Geriatrics SIG to designate the board certified from non certified.

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I agree with the sentiment, we need (if we choose) to be recognized for our credentials. Some don’t want to be. Some have a lot of letters after their name. When this is the case, writing out more than a couple becomes cumbersome at best. When I come across an abbreviated designation that I don’t recognize I look it up and make an effort to learn what it means. From the quotation in Matthew’s original post, it appears that there is room in the rule to not write it out and to use only the initials.

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Hi Matthew and all,
I apologize that I’m just seeing these postings now. As APTA Geriatrics Chief delegate, we can create motions just as any other delegates can, whether representing our Chapters or Academies. Have you discussed this with your chapter delegates? Have any other Geri members discussed it with delegates?

We would need to investigate whether a motion is needed to make change, since the website already indicates to spell out credentials if not room to accommodate them. It’s too late to get a motion ready for 2024, but we could work on it for 2025. Please let me know if any members are interested in this issue. My email is

Thank you Beth. I don’t believe chapter delegates have been contacted. I would be happy to work on this with you for 2025.