The job of your Highett physio is to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of musculoskeletal issues that impact people’s movement and physical function.
We often find ourselves working with those who’ve suffered from accidents, injuries or long-running health problems.
Using a tailored combination of exercise, movement analysis, manual therapy and specialist techniques, we can help restore, improve and promote health.
The human body is a complex machine. In order to make the right diagnosis, physiotherapists need extensive training in muscle and skeletal conditions, as well as sports injuries, body mechanics and the healing process.
Today, our Highett physio will be shining a spotlight on the training and education needed before we can call ourselves physiotherapists.
Step 1: complete your education
It starts with your degree…
To become a physiotherapist, the first step is to complete a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from an accredited institution.
As a medical-related field, the entry requirements are quite strict – for starters, the minimum ATAR tends to hover around the mid-90s, though some institutions have an even higher demand.
Additionally, most universities will also require you to have completed VCE biology, physics or chemistry. Melbourne and Monash Unis go even further, requiring two science subjects in order to get in!
That’s because physiotherapy has a strong grounding in science.
A large part of your physiotherapist’s studies focuses on understanding the various systems and how different parts of the body are related to one another.
This knowledge is essential if we’re to properly assess and diagnose your unique pains, aches and injuries.
Of course, physiotherapy is a hands-on profession. While classroom education is important, practical work is crucial if we’re to treat your musculoskeletal problems.
As part of our degree, we also participate in practical classes, where we work with physiotherapy equipment and practice hands-on physiotherapy techniques like exercise, movement analysis, manual therapy and other specialist techniques.
Finally, all aspiring physiotherapists are also required to complete a minimum amount of clinical placement, just like many other medical professionals.
Most universities require a minimum of 6x 5 week clinical placements.
This allows us to “practice” with real-world cases and apply our classroom learning.
In addition to the ATAR requirement and prerequisite science subjects, prospective physios also need to obtain additional certifications and training to enroll in a physiotherapy degree.
Physiotherapists must be registered with AHPRA. You cannot practice physiotherapy without this registration.
Many physiotherapists are members of the Australia Physiotherapy Association (APA).
To learn more about the APA click on the link below:
Another example is the Working With Children Check. While not mandatory to register as a physiotherapist (for example, you may work solely with seniors), many general practice physiotherapists will find themselves working with a wide range of cases, including children.
Given the risk inherent in health practice, it’s also recommended that physiotherapists also obtain first aid and CPR training, as well as up-to-date immunisations and vaccines.
These are mandatory requirements for enrolment in most physiotherapy degrees.
Do you need postgraduate study to work as a physiotherapist?
While you don’t need a postgraduate degree to practice as a physiotherapist, it is a helpful extra, and can be used to further develop your knowledge of physiotherapy practice.
For example, our Highett physio Ben Demase completed his Masters of Physiotherapy Practice from LaTrobe University, making him even more qualified to diagnose and treat your unique musculoskeletal pains and problems.
Step 2: get certified by the Physiotherapy Board of Australia
So you’ve got your degree – fantastic!
However, that doesn’t mean you’re a physiotherapist just yet. In order to practice, you’ll first need to register with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (PBA).
As with any other medical field, physiotherapists are held to high standards, and must adhere to strict legal requirements not just in practice, but also in advertising, conduct, and more.
The PBA oversees the physiotherapy practice in Australia. It’s responsible for regulating practitioners and protecting clients and patients, maintaining industry standards and investigating breaches.
Registration is conducted through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and students can make their application up to six weeks before graduation.
There are several different levels of registration depending on the type of work you intend to perform as a physiotherapist:
- General registration
- Limited registration
- Postgraduate training or supervised practice
- Teaching or research
- Non-practising registration
- Student registration
If you plan on practicing as a physiotherapist however, you’ll have to meet the following registration standards:
- Mandatory police check
- Insurance policies
- English language proficiency
- Continuing professional development
- Compliance with professional codes and guidelines
Overseas physiotherapists working in Australia
A degree from a certified Australian institution certifies that you have the theoretical base needed to practice as a physio in Australia.
That’s because the content taught in Australian physiotherapy degrees is created with the cooperation of the Board, ensuring that it meets the technical, legal and ethical standards demanded from physiotherapists in Australia.
If you trained overseas however, the content may not meet these standards.
As such, overseas physios need to sit a written and clinical assessment to determine if their training is equivalent to an accredited Australian degree.
Step 3: continuing development
So you’ve earned your degree. That doesn’t mean that the learning is over however – far from it!
Our understanding of the human body expands with each year – there’s always new discoveries being made, techniques tested and research being conducted.
If we’re to maintain or competence and knowledge and help people get their mobility back, we need to keep up with all of that.
Education and registration are essential in becoming a physiotherapist.
If you want to continue practicing as a physio however, you’ll also need to commit to continuing personal development and training (CPD), just like any other medical professional.
Examples of continuing development include:
- Formal education like short courses
- Attending conferences
- Lecturing and mentoring
- Secondments and job rotations
Each year, you’ll have to complete a minimum quota of CPD hours if your membership renewal is to be accepted.
You’ll also have to provide evidence of CPD, such as enrollment paperwork, certificates and learning contracts.
It’s a lot of work on top of your existing caseload – however, it’s also crucial if you’re to keep up with the latest research in the world of physiotherapy.
Choose a qualified, experienced Highett physio
Now you know what it takes to become a qualified physiotherapist. If you were hesitant about getting in touch with your local physio, hopefully this puts your mind at ease.
As you can see, physiotherapy practice isn’t quackery – all physiotherapy is backed by science, and there are stringent requirements prospective physios need to meet.
Need a physiotherapist? Get in touch with Physio AUS!
Using our unique AUS system, we’ll go further, getting right to the heart of your pain, aches, or other issues.
Our physiotherapists in Highett also analyse how you use your body and determine if that has any bearing on the problem.
If need be, we’ll look at your lifestyle and how you use your body to identify potential issues.
For example, if you perform physical labour, we’ll look at your work habits and help adjust your movements or prescribe tools and aids to take the pressure off your body.
Don’t let pain stop you from living your life.