Study physiotherapy in Australia, then practice in Canada

Are you interested in studying physiotherapy in Australia? May is National Physiotherapy Month and a great time to get started on learning how you can enter the physiotherapy profession!

Australian university graduate-entry physio degrees are highly sought after by Canadian university graduates with academic backgrounds in kinesiology, health sciences, and human kinetics. Since Australia is world-renowned for its leading-edge physiotherapy research and practice, Canadians enjoy learning from Australian academics who are world leaders in the physiotherapy field.

Study physiotherapy in Australia, then practice in Canada
Find out how you can study physiotherapy in Australia (Photo: University of Melbourne)

Degrees are labelled as Master of Physiotherapy Studies or Doctor of Physiotherapy degrees, but both are professional qualification programs. In order to help you make the best decision, here are just some of the most common questions (with answers!) we receive.

What is the difference between a Master of Physiotherapy and a Doctor of Physiotherapy degree?

Both the Master of Physiotherapy (MPT) and Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) programs are designed to provide the same professional qualifications, so graduates of each program will be returning to Canada and applying for the same type of certification.

The DPT programs are usually three years and provide students with more practicum and coursework components, which some students like. Additionally, by having this extra time, students are usually able to delve a bit deeper into the profession of physiotherapy and explore some topics the shorter programs may not, such as emergency medicine or sports physiotherapy.

When returning to Canada, which organizations are responsible for evaluating the degree?

Graduates who wish to become certified as a physiotherapist here in Canada will need to apply for certification through Canada’s provincial certification boards. In many cases these provincial certification boards will require applicants to also complete the certification process through Canada’s national physiotherapy regulatory board, the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (Alliance).

As an international graduate, you would first have your Australian university qualifications assessed by the Alliance to ensure these meet their requirements. If they meet the requirements, you would then complete the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE), just like any other applicant.

The Alliance and provincial certification boards only assess applicants on a case-by-case basis and do not pre-approve any international physiotherapy programs. Based on this assessment process and the fact that applicants have to pass the PCE, it is not guaranteed that all applicants will have a successful application; however, at OzTREKK, we keep track of how our Australian university programs compare to Canadian requirements, and do not promote physiotherapy degrees in Australia if we don’t feel they would work for our Canadian students.

What is the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE)?

The Physiotherapy Competency Examination tests whether qualified exam candidates have demonstrated a minimum standard of practice. The PCE ensures that members of the public will be safe when they interact with physiotherapists. It fairly and accurately evaluates the competencies you need to have to practice physiotherapy. Most physiotherapy regulators in Canada include passing the PCE as part of their entry-to-practice process.

What does the PCE involve?

There are two components to the examination—a written and a clinical component. The written component tests your ability to use and integrate clinical knowledge and to solve clinical problems using clinical scenarios. You must achieve a minimum overall score to pass the written component.
The clinical component tests safe, effective use of the principles and processes of physiotherapy practice. The knowledge, skills and abilities assessed by the Clinical Component include communication skills and professional behaviour.

Australian physiotherapy school application deadlines

Bond University
Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland
Next available intake: May 2018
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: TBA. For the May 2017 intake, applications closed Aug. 11, 2016.

Macquarie University
Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Duration: 3 years
Next available intake: July 2018
Application deadline: February 2018

University of Melbourne
Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Duration: 3 years
Next available intake: February 2018
Application deadline: First round – June 1, 2017; second round – July 27, 2017

University of Queensland
Program: Master of Physiotherapy Studies
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Duration: 2 years
Next available intake: November 2017
Application deadline: UQ has a general application deadline of May 30 each year; however, candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

University of Sydney
Program: Master of Physiotherapy
Location: Lidcombe, (suburb of Sydney), New South Wales
Duration: 2 years
Next available intake: March 2018
Application deadline: Applications are usually assessed on as they are received. The sooner you apply the better.

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