Practicing as a physiotherapist

Overview

All the physiotherapy programs OzTREKK features are accredited in Australia, so you could practice immediately in Australia, or return to Canada as many students do.

In order to practice physiotherapy in Canada, you must register with the physiotherapy regulatory body in the province you intend to practice. The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) recognizes degrees from Australian universities, as long as you meet the requirements including completion of a minimum number of clinical hours.

Steps to Practice

In order to return to Canada, you must first complete a course called “The Context of Physiotherapy in Canada,” offered at the University of Toronto, which has an online course that you can complete before leaving Australia.

Once you complete the course, your next step is to apply to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR)  to have them assess your qualifications based on two criteria:

1. Education (degree at an accredited university)
2. Supervised clinical hours (minimum of 1,025)

Once the Alliance successfully assesses your credentials, you would need to complete the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE) like any other physiotherapy graduate in Canada prior to provincial registration:

  • Have credentials assessed by the CAPR
  • Write the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE)
  • Register with the provincial regulatory body where you intend to practice

Step #1: Credentialing requirements

  • A qualified physio degree (notarized copy)
  • A minimum of 1,025 hours of supervised clinical practice, including 100 in musculoskeletal, 100 in neurological, and 40 in cardiorespiratory
  • “Knowledge of Physiotherapy Practice within the Canadian Healthcare System” online course
  • Valid ID
  • Fluency in English (granted based on degree)
  • Cost: $1,077 assessment fee plus courier costs

Step #2: Physiotherapy competency exam

  • 4-hour 200-question written exam covering history-taking, physical examination, data interpretation, clinical problem solving, ethics, client-management skills, interviewing, communication; clinical practice areas including musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular/respiratory, and other multi-system
  • 3-hour 16-station clinical exam covering biological sciences, social sciences, applied science, scientific inquiry, clinical science, and professional practice
  • total cost of $2,815 (2020) for both written ($1,002) and clinical ($1,813) components
  • results take 6 (business) weeks for written exam and 12 weeks for clinical exam

Step #3: Applying for provincial licensure

  • Each province and territory have their own requirements (similar but varying), conditions and fees
  • Often looking for PCE completion, criminal record check, professional history, English proficiency, and professional insurance

You are encouraged to contact the regulators directly so you’re 100% clear on the accreditation process. You can contact the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators or your provincial authority with any detailed accreditation questions.

Track Your Hours

While OzTREKK is here to answer any questions you may have to the best of our ability, you will need to be proactive in clarifying requirements with the provincial regulatory body where you intend to practice and tracking your hours in the program to make sure you will meet them.

The CAPR recommends using their self-assessment module to check your eligibility and identify the best pathway to practice.

Practicing in Australia

Similar to other professional programs in Australia, there is no exam to pass after graduating to be eligible to become licensed to practice. Graduates may register with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (PBA) to practice within 12 months of graduating.

You will need to submit proof of ID, insurance, English, clean criminal history check, and pay the fee.

 

Registration to practice in Australia

Australian-educated physiotherapists must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia before they can practice. You can apply for registration through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about 4 to 6 weeks before graduation.

As of July 20, 2020, all of OzTREKK’s physiotherapy programs (undergraduate or post-graduate) are recognized as accredited by the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.

To register to practice in Australia, you can register online.

Graduates must register within 12 months of graduation. When you renew each year after that, you’ll be asked about your recent practice. If you don’t meet the standard, you’ll need to provide more information.

1. In the online portal, create a profile and prove your identity.
2. When you register, you’ll be asked about criminal history, health impairments and English proficiency.
3. Agree to abide by the Code of Conduct which means that you will provide safe and ethical care to patients.
4. Complaints can be made against your conduct, performance or health.
5. Declare to let the board know if your criminal record changes and to keep track of your continuing professional development.
6. Pay the fee.

 

Fees for registration with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia

Item National fee ($) Rebate for NSW registrants ($) Fee for registrants with principal place of practice in NSW ($)
Application fee for general registration 123 0 123
Application fee for limited registration 123 0 123
Application fee for non-practicing registration 123 0 123
Application fee for fast track application 60 0 60
Registration fee for general registration 144 40 104
Registration fee for limited registration 144 40 104
Registration fee for non-practicing registration 26 1 25
Late renewal fee for general registration 30 0 30
Late renewal fee for limited registration 30 0 30
Late renewal fee for non-practicing registration 5 0 5
Replacement registration certificate 20 0 20
Extract from the register 10 0 10
Copy of the register (if application is assessed as in the public interest) 2,000 0 2,000
Verification of registration status (Certificate of Registration Status) 50 0 50

 

Registration Standards

There are 5 Registration Standards:

1. Physiotherapy Continuing Professional Development Registration Standard

Continuing professional development is the means by which members of the profession maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives.

You don’t need to meet this standard when you apply for registration in Australia for the first time as a physiotherapist.

2. Physiotherapy Criminal History Registration Standard

Criminal history is defined in the National Law as

  • every conviction of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law;
  • every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law and whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence;
  • every charge made against the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law.

This standard applies to all applicants for registration and all registered health practitioners. It does not apply to students.

3. Physiotherapy English Language Skills Registration Standard

English language competency must be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  •  English is your primary language and you have undertaken and satisfactorily completed all of your primary and secondary education, which was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognized country, and
  • tertiary qualifications in the relevant professional discipline, which you are relying on to support your eligibility for registration under the National Law, which were taught and assessed solely in English.

This standard applies to all applicants for initial registration. It does not student or non-practicing registration.

4. Registration Standard: Professional Indemnity Insurance Arrangements

Professional indemnity insurance arrangements are arrangements that secure for the practitioner’s professional practice insurance against civil liability incurred by, or loss arising from, a claim that is made as a result of a negligent act, error or omission in the conduct of the practitioner. When you practice as a physiotherapist you must be covered by your own or third party PII arrangements that meet this standard.

This standard applies to all registered physiotherapists except those with student or non-practicing registration.

5. Registration standard: Recency of practice

Recency of practice means that a health practitioner has maintained an adequate connection with, and recent practice in the profession since qualifying for, or obtaining registration.

You don’t need to meet this registration standard if you are a recent graduate applying for registration for the first time.

FAQs

You don’t meet the University of Melbourne’s physio prerequisites

The University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Physiotherapy prerequisites require you to have approved courses in human anatomy and human physiology to be eligible to apply.

1. Check Melbourne’s prerequisites
To see if your courses meet the prerequisites, please go to the University of Melbourne’s prerequisites page. Select the drop-down menu titled “List of assessed subjects” and click “International” to download the current list of subjects. Please note this list is updated regularly.

2. Have your courses assessed
If you can’t find your human anatomy and human physiology courses on this chart, you’ll need to have these courses assessed by submitting a Prerequisite Subject Assessment Form, including full course outlines for each course you want assessed. You are encouraged submit this form well in advance of applying so you can plan accordingly.

3. Enroll in the missing prerequisite(s)
Melbourne will allow students to take non-award courses during the application season to make up the prerequisites they are missing. This means you can submit your application early in the year with your interim transcript and proof of enrollment into the prerequisite course. Before enrolling in any prerequisite course, we advise checking with either your admissions officer or the university to make sure the course will satisfy the prerequisite. Usually, Melbourne requires students to complete the course(s) by November.

If you have not completed the prerequisite course by the time offers are issued, then universities will issue a conditional offer. After you’ve successfully completed your required anatomy / physiology course(s), your final transcript can be submitted, and the conditions will be lifted.

You don’t meet the physio prerequisite requirements

Many Australian graduate-entry physiotherapy programs require you to have completed specific undergraduate subjects.

1. Find out if you have the right combination of prerequisite courses
Contact us! We can help you find out which physiotherapy programs might work for your prereqs, and it helps us process your application(s) much faster!

2. Enroll in the missing prerequisite(s)
Most Australian universities will let students take non-award courses during the application season to make up the prerequisites they are missing. This means you can submit your application with your interim transcript and proof of enrollment into the prerequisite course. Before enrolling in any prerequisite course, we advise checking with either your admissions officer or the university to make sure the course will satisfy the prerequisite.

If you haven’t completed the prerequisite course by the time offers are issued, then universities may issue a conditional offer. Please note that not all universities will issue conditional offers and it may vary for each program. It’s always best to check with your admissions officer to see if you course of interest will give conditional offers.

#OzTREKKTip: With our years of experience working with physiotherapy programs, we have found students sometimes lack a qualifying anatomy prerequisite. The best anatomy courses to consider deal with musculoskeletal or gross human anatomy components. BIOL 3701 at Thompson Rivers University is a good online course to take. If you have specific questions about which courses to take, please email rehabsci@oztrekk.com.

Your undergraduate degree isn’t in a relevant discipline

Some graduate-entry Australian physiotherapy programs require a student to have completed a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline, such as kinesiology, health sciences, or human kinetics.

Take an undergraduate physiotherapy program
If you haven’t completed an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, you may be eligible to apply to a 4-year Bachelor of Physiotherapy program. Have a look at our physiotherapy programs page for more information. If you have questions about this option, please email rehabsci@oztrekk.com.

How do I know if I have enough qualified physio clinical hours?

In order to begin the process of certification, CAPR requires that the applicant show evidence of having completed 1,025 hours of supervised clinical education with at least 100 of these hours in musculoskeletal, 100 in neurological and 40 in cardiorespiratory conditions.

As long as you graduate from one of the Australian university programs that OzTREKK features, it is expected that you will fulfill your 1025 clinical hours as they are worked into the program; however, we still encourage all students to keep track of their hours because it is ultimately your responsibility to record and report.

A good start would be to speak with your faculty advisor to inquire about clinical hours; they will have resources to help you. For more information, please visit our Practicing physiotherapy in Canada page.

How long does it typically take after graduation to start practicing physiotherapy?

The process can take up to two years as the timing of the exams can make the process very protracted; however, you are permitted to work under supervision between the written and clinical portions of the PCE exam. Get more information about the process on our Practicing physiotherapy in Canada page.

Can I work as a physiotherapist when I return to Canada?

You are encouraged to contact the regulators directly so you’re 100% clear on the accreditation process. You can contact the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators or your provincial authority with any detailed accreditation questions.

All the physiotherapy programs OzTREKK features are accredited in Australia, so you could practice immediately in Australia, or return to Canada as many students do. The process to stay in Australia is very simple.

In order to return to Canada, you must first complete a course called “The Context of Physiotherapy in Canada” that is offered at several universities in Canada, including UofT, which has an online course that you can complete before leaving Australia.

Once you complete the course, your next step is to apply to the Alliance to have them assess your qualifications based on two criteria: education (degree at an accredited university) and supervised clinical hours (minimum of 1,025). There are five criteria, but the other ones are less complex: identification, English language and your understanding of the practice in Canada (the course mentioned).

After Alliance successfully assesses your credentials, you would need to complete the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE) like any other physiotherapy graduate in Canada prior to provincial registration.

Learn more about the process on our Practicing physiotherapy in Canada page.

What is the difference between a Master of Physiotherapy (MPT) and a Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT)?

The main difference between DPT and MPT is the length of the program. The Master of Physiotherapy programs are typically two years in length and are similar to the graduate-entry programs we have in Canada.

Doctor of Physiotherapy programs are typically three years in length and therefore cover more coursework and practicum hours than the two-year programs. Furthermore, they tend to provide students with the opportunity to explore more advanced practice (e.g., emergency medicine, sports physiotherapy, etc.) and usually include a research project. The title of the program is deceiving, as it is not a “doctorate,” but is, in fact, a master’s-level degree. Although the programs are different in length and have different titles, graduates of both programs are eligible to apply to become a physiotherapist in Canada.

What is a course outline and why do I need to submit them?

A course outline includes all the necessary information about a university course. It will include the course title, the year, the learning goals, the professor’s contact information, reading materials and most important, a weekly learning schedule. This will help the universities to see what you studied on a week-to-week basis and assess if you have covered the material they expect you to know.

What is considered a competitive GPA for physio programs?

For graduate-entry physio programs (master or doctor), anything above a 75% cGPA is considered competitive for most of our physiotherapy programs. If you have a cGPA of 70% or lower, we would not recommend applying to physiotherapy programs.

For undergraduate-entry physio programs, most eligible candidates have a university degree with an overall average of approximately 85% – 95%, with studies in math, science, and English. Varies by university. Keep in mind entry is competitive and meeting minimum GPA requirements do not guarantee entry.

How do I know if I meet the prerequisite courses for physiotherapy?

It is important to ensure you have taken courses that cover all the prerequisites before applying to any university program. Some universities list pre-approved courses while others require applicants to submit course outlines. Your course does not need to have the same name as the prerequisite e.g., “neuroscience;” it just needs to cover the right material.

#OzTREKKTip: The most crucial prerequisites for our physiotherapy programs are human anatomy and human physiology. The universities want to see more than one semester of these courses and want you to have extensive knowledge in these areas prior to your arrival in Australia. There will not be any review courses and we have heard from former OzTREKK students that they were not prepared and wish they would have reviewed their anatomy courses more thoroughly.

Another important note is that many students try to apply with combined courses (for example: anatomy & physiology part 1 and 2).

Whenever courses are combined, e.g., anatomy & physiology (parts 1 and 2), it is equivalent to taking a half a semester of each anatomy and physiology. So even if you took both part 1 and part 2, it would only be equivalent to taking one semester of anatomy and one semester of physiology.

If you are missing any prerequisites, you are encouraged to enroll in those courses before applying so we can include your interim transcript with your application.