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Public Policy and Administration
Continuing education (CE) mandate laws are passed by states because it is in the public interest. The intent behind the passage of Illinois's CE law for physical therapists is to protect public health and safety through ensuring the competency of providers. However, studies into the impact of mandated CE on competency have been mixed. The problem addressed by this study was whether Illinois's CE law was effective in improving the competency of physical therapists and its impact on patient care. The purpose of this study was to understand what role mandated CE played in developing the competency of physical therapists in Illinois and whether mandated CE was the best method for the state to use to address provider competency. The main research question and sub questions focused on examining what role mandated CE played in improving the professional competency of physical therapists and its impact on patient care. Framework analysis was used to analyze the data that was then placed into themes that had been identified in the literature review. Findings from this study were examined using systems theory and human motivation theory. This study's findings indicate physical therapists believe mandated CE can improve competency and patient satisfaction. Participants indicated when patients get better faster they are more satisfied and when practitioners have advanced skills patient care is improved. The social implications of Illinois's CE law, while not perfect, is positive for both patients and providers, according to Illinois physical therapists. Overall, physical therapists believe that CE improves the competency of the provider, which in turn improves patient care.