Physiotherapy is a controlled profession in Canada, meaning that it’s regulated by the government through licencing laws. To legally practice physical therapy or use the PT designation in Canada, you must meet those requirements, which include education and practical work elements. Certain provinces have additional requirements, so the location in which you plan to practise impacts the specific requirements you need to complete.
Physiotherapist Education Requirements
The first step in your journey toward becoming a physiotherapist is completing a masters degree in Physiotherapy (MscPT) from an accredited college or university. Most programs include a mix of lectures, labs, and clinical work to give you a comprehensive education in the field. You can expect your physiotherapy program to require you to complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours. You can choose from one of 15 universities in Canada that offer physiotherapy programs, as of November 2018.
Physiotherapy Competency Examination
After completing a physiotherapy program, you need to register as a physiotherapist in the province in which you intend to practise. Most provinces also require that you pass the national Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) after completing a physiotherapy program but before you start practising. The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) administers exams for competency on behalf of most of the provincial and territorial regulators. The purpose of the exam is to ensure you have the knowledge necessary to safely treat patients. It tests your competence in knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the field and covers neuromusculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary-vascular, and multisystem areas. The test includes a written portion and a clinical component to test your communication skills and professional behaviour. If you don’t pass the exam the first time, you can apply to retake it.
Each provincial and territorial regulator may also have additional requirements before you can practise. Check with the provincial physiotherapy regulator in the province where you wish to practise to determine if you need to complete additional requirements. The CAPR also evaluates your credentials if you’ve been licensed in another country and wish to move to Canada. CAPR provides information to the regulators on credentials and qualifications, and the regulators decide whether to grant an applicant a licence to practise.
Once you receive your licence, you need to show that you can continue providing safe, competent care by maintaining your current knowledge and skills throughout your career. You can accomplish this by enrolling in continuing education programs, which helps you become a lifelong learner while staying current on developments in the field. Another option is participating in your province’s local physiotherapist association. Requirements vary by province. For example, Ontario requires you to assemble a portfolio that you must update each year and participate in random panels to assess competency.
Becoming a physiotherapist in Canada comes with several specific education and licencing requirements, but once you complete the list, you can practise in your desired field. If you run your own practise, using tools such as QuickBooks makes it easier to manage your finances. The QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their businesses on the go. Download the app.