Specialisation as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists
Specialisation as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists is a title conferred to physiotherapists who have attained the highest level of expertise in their particular field of physiotherapy.
Having demonstrated this expertise by completing a rigorous training and examination process, these expert physiotherapists become Fellows by Specialisation of the College. Fellows of the College contribute to the professional education of colleagues, actively engage in their own professional development, and have had involvement in research activities.
Currently, the pathway to specialist recognition by the College is a three-tiered process through one of the recognised APA clinical groups.
A qualified physiotherapist and APA member joins the relevant national group and undertakes appropriate educational and professional development activities.
Tier 2 (Titling)
A Level One member of an APA clinical group is required to undergo further study (e.g., a coursework master’s degree in the specialty field, or study through the alternate pathway established by the clinical group). When a member becomes a Titled Member of, for example, the sports physiotherapy group, the member has the right to use the words ‘APA Sports Physiotherapist’ with their name.
Tier 3 (Specialisation as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists)
To become a Specialist Fellow of the College, prospective candidates can either pursue Fellowship by Original Contribution, or undertake a two-year training program that includes clinical experience and facilitated clinical development to attain an advanced level of clinical practice. This requires evidence of a commitment to education and active participation in a research activity. At the completion of the two-year training program, candidates present for final clinical and oral examinations.
Specialist Fellows are admitted to the Australian College of Physiotherapists, which is the body within the APA that is ultimately responsible for setting the standards and criteria and administering the clinical examinations that Level Three candidates must undertake. Only members of the College have the right describe their expertise in a way that incorporates the term “Specialist”.
To apply, you must return both a completed application form and a completed expression of interest statement.
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The use of specialist titles
At this time, specialist titles for physiotherapists are not yet recognised under national registration. To avoid misleading the public, physiotherapists who have been awarded Fellowship by Specialisation or Original Contribution by the Australian College of Physiotherapists are required to refer to their expertise in a way that establishes their credentials using this format:
Jane Doe, Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist (as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 20**).
At this stage, physiotherapist should not use the term “Specialist” without establishing their credentials in the way outlined above. Specialist Fellows are required to spell out the name of Australian College of Physiotherapists in full. Specialist Fellows are also allowed to use the post-nominal ‘FACP’ to establish their credentials:
John Doe, FACP.
The APA and the Australian College of Physiotherapists, with a growing critical mass of specialists, are now working with, and lobbying government and health insurers at several levels to ensure appropriate external recognition of specialisation within the wider community. Queries around the use of specialist titles can be directed to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.