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Council clinical assessments during COVID-19 pandemic

August 19th, 2021

AUSTRALIAN PHYSIOTHERAPY COUNCIL

Nearly 18 months ago COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria began to disrupt the important work of the Australian Physiotherapy Council.

Again, we find the current Government directed lockdown and travel restrictions presenting major challenges here in Melbourne, as well as many parts of Australia, with Government and health officials fighting to stem community spread of the latest COVID-19 strains.

The Council’s staff team have worked tirelessly to support overseas qualified physiotherapists progress through their individual assessment journeys towards the goal of general registration and joining the Australian physiotherapy profession.

During lockdowns, the face-to-face clinical assessments in the Council’s Sim Lab have been suspended, with many candidates having their assessments postponed and rescheduled. This is one of the consequences of the pandemic that is beyond the Council’s control, as we must comply with the lockdown orders from Government authorities.

Despite lockdowns and disruptions, the Council expanded its throughput and held 534 clinical assessment sessions between October 2020 and July 2021, allowing many candidates to complete their assessment pathways.

Why must overseas physiotherapists pass the clinical assessments?

It is the responsibility of the Council under the National Law, to verify that overseas physiotherapists can demonstrate safe and effective physiotherapy practice across all settings in Australia.

Our assessment process is aligned to the Physiotherapy Practice Thresholds, which describe the minimum competencies required for initial and continuing registration as a physiotherapist in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The clinical assessment is a critical component in this process.

What about other models of clinical assessment in light of the pandemic disruption?

The current model of clinical assessment was scientifically validated through our Simulation Project, and the data and project outcomes showed it to be fair and robust assessment model for all candidates.

The adaption of the Written Assessment to a remote invigilation model from July 2020, demonstrates the Council’s strong desire to innovate and overcome the disruption by the pandemic. However, the Australian physiotherapy profession expects that the Council would never compromise on the standard of physiotherapy practice in Australia. Therefore, our assessments must meet the profession’s expectations of accurately and reliably assessing candidates against the Physiotherapy Practice Thresholds. The Council will continue to work with the Australian physiotherapy profession and research partners to address the challenges presented by the pandemic disruption, and explore appropriate alternative models of assessment that are evidence based.

The Australian Physiotherapy Council believes that maintaining high quality Australian physiotherapists serves the best interests of both the physiotherapy profession and those in the Australian community who access physiotherapy services.

To keep up to date with the Council’s Covid response, visit this page: https://physiocouncil.com.au/the-councils-covid-19-response/

From Australian Physiotherapy Council

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