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How to assess clinical competency during a pandemic

March 17th, 2021

Anton Barnett-Harris

Anton Barnett-Harris

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Physiotherapy Council

On behalf of the Australian Physiotherapy Council, I am pleased to share this recent journal article authored by two of our Board members, Director Lucy Chipchase, and Director Kathryn Grudzinskas, and Kathryn Tognon, one of the Council’s Assessment Officers.

This editorial in the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Journal of Physiotherapy discusses the challenges of delivering clinical assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic and explores the various models to remotely assess clinical competence. This is pertinent to the Council, as we seek to develop future models to facilitate our overseas qualified physiotherapists to be assessed despite disruptions, as was experienced during much of 2020 due to COVID-19.

During the pandemic, a number of the Council’s operational aspects were pivoted to remote delivery modes, so that we could continue to serve our stakeholders and candidates, such as virtual accreditation site visits and the remotely invigilated written assessment. However, assessing clinical competence remotely, rather than in-person in our Simulation Lab, was a greater challenge, and requires further consideration and development.

As with any discussion of new and possible innovations, such as the Council’s move to simulation assessment in 2019, we are committed to undertaking a thorough examination of existing approaches that could be appropriately used in the Council’s context, as well as engaging with stakeholders and the physiotherapy profession to ensure that we are still assessing overseas qualified physiotherapists to the Physiotherapy Practice Thresholds in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. This article is an important first step in the conversation for both assessment authorities and education providers who wish to develop more resilient and future-ready models of clinical assessment.

We highly commend this article for your reading and welcome your input and perspectives as together we champion excellence and professionalism in physiotherapy practice.

From Anton Barnett-Harris of the Australian Physiotherapy Council

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