Physiotherapists in Canada are trained in the university system and graduate with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy after earning a Bachelor’s degree to be admitted. “Physical Therapist” is an equivalent title and may be used interchangeably. The professional education has evolved over the years as it was previously a Diploma program encompassing both physiotherapy and occupational therapy until the mid-seventies. It then became two separate Bachelor’s programs until about ten years ago. There are still some Diploma holders and many Bachelor’s degree holders in active practice. All physiotherapists are governed by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, and are now intended to use the initials ‘PT’ after their names to clarify their professional titles and indicate that they have all been assessed to the same level when entering practice.
There are a number of areas of interest in clinical practice and post-graduate education and credentials that may also be indicated when you look at a physiotherapist’s bio. One of the credentials you see referred to most often on clinic websites are the “Level Courses” or ‘manual therapy courses’. We have a 5 Level system in Canada that mirrors systems across the world and involves hands-on training, biomechanical and anatomical detailed knowledge, and an increasing amount of clinical problem solving. The first three levels are followed by the Intermediate Manual Therapy Exam and are a solid foundation for hands-on treatment. The fourth and fifth courses are focused particularly on the spine from the cranium to the sacrum and include spinal manipulation1. Therapists working toward this exam must be mentored as well. Those who have completed this set of exams will have Advanced Manual Therapy Exam in their bio, and will usually use the abbreviation FCAMPT (Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapists) after their name. The set of courses and exams takes a minimum of three years to complete usually, but recently the international federation has also accredited a one-year Masters Program. The programs are intended to be a comprehensive foundation for orthopedics and are a blend of many well-respected hands-on treatment approaches.
Acupuncture has two common credentials in Ontario : AFCI and Contemporary Medical each of these takes 1-2 years to complete usually. There are many other focused post-graduate courses that range from weekend long training to even longer courses that can go on over the course of a year. Training through different schools such as McKenzie, Mulligan Mobilizations and Diane Lee’s Integrated systems model course can provide clinicians with additional skills and treatment tools to deal with the more stubborn and complex patient cases.
When choosing a health care practitioner/physiotherapist, you want to ensure that they are involved in ongoing education. This shows they are dedicated to their profession, have more advanced clinical reasoning skills and have a variety of treatment options so that you get better faster! Please read our previous blog post for more detailed information on how to choose a good physiotherapist for your injury. The physiotherapists at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown Toronto all participate in post-graduate courses regularly and have the skills to help you recover from your aches and pains.
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1Spinal manipulation is the ‘cracking’ or fast thrust that many people associate with chiropractic care, but in fact is one treatment option used by an increasing number of physiotherapists, osteopaths, and a small number of physicians.