Physiotherapy Alberta was notified on Saturday, March 20, 2021, that due to significant technical challenges, the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) was forced to cancel the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Exam, scheduled on March 20th and 21st, 2021.

We acknowledge the burden that the cancellation puts upon candidates who have invested their time, energy, and effort to prepare for this day. We also recognize that examination candidates want answers and our focus in the coming days will be working towards a solution with CAPR to resolve this issue.

On Thursday, March 25, 2021 the governing Council of Physiotherapy Alberta held an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing unavailability of the Clinical Component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) and potential strategies to address the registration delays registrants on Physiotherapy Alberta’s Provisional Register have experienced as a result.

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Over the past 72 hours Physiotherapy Alberta staff and Council have received hundreds of calls, emails, and social media messages regarding the cancellation of the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competence Examination. We recognize that emotions are running high and have empathy for those who have been affected by the cancellation. As we stated in our previous message to registrants, we share a common goal of finding answers for provisional registrants. We are committed to finding a resolution to this ongoing problem, one which also addresses the regulatory requirements established by our government mandate.

The volume of messages received has exceeded our capacity to respond to each person individually. Please know that we have read every email, listened to every voice message, and reviewed every social media post.

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  1. What happened on March 20th that caused the cancellation of the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE)?
  2. Why can’t we toss the clinical exam requirement?
  3. What about the physiotherapist interns who have been unable to practice, and all those COVID patients who need physiotherapy care?
  4. Why isn’t Physiotherapy Alberta advocating on behalf of the PCE candidates?
  5.  Why hasn’t Physiotherapy Alberta complied with the CPA’s demands that the clinical exam requirement be set aside?
  6. But isn’t Physiotherapy Alberta a branch of the CPA and an association?
  7. This is the third incident involving the examination process. What is being done to overcome the ongoing challenge?
  8. CAPR has demonstrated that they are not competent. Why are you still working with them?
  9. Why do we have a clinical exam requirement to begin with? Other professions don’t have a clinical exam.
  10. Is the clinical exam even valid and reliable?
  11. If the clinical examination is so important, why are you doing it virtually?
  12. Why doesn’t Physiotherapy Alberta develop its own exam to meet the needs of University of Alberta graduates and local PCE candidates?
  13. Why doesn’t Physiotherapy Alberta trust the results from the University of Alberta’s own end of program Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), the University of Alberta is an accredited program, isn’t it?
  14. Why can’t my supervised practice hours count towards meeting registration requirements? Why can’t my supervisor vouch for me and "grandfather"/legacy me in?
  15. But I have had to take time off to study and have lost earnings because of my ongoing status as a Physiotherapist Intern.
  16. Will information be sent to current supervising physiotherapists and employers about this current situation?
  17. What would happen if I just didn’t bother to finish the examination process?

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In this episode, Jody and Leanne are joined by Joyce Vogelgesang, Deputy Registrar and long-time staff member of Physiotherapy Alberta, to discuss the history of how we came to be both College and Association, some common misconceptions about our history and role, and our primary mandate to serve the public interest.

We go on to discuss recent legislative changes that mandate that health profession regulatory organizations may not hold themselves out to be both College and Association and may not fulfill association-type roles as part of their work. This change reflects a trend in the world of regulation to require separation between organizations that serve the public interest and those that represent the interests of the profession.

While the details of what this change will mean for Physiotherapy Alberta’s activities are still being reviewed, we know that in the future we will not operate as a dual mandate organization. Fortunately, the legislation provides for an 18-month transition period for the College to devolve itself of association functions.

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Physiotherapy Alberta has always fielded questions regarding physiotherapist interns and the Provisional Register, with questions relating to everything from the requirements for becoming a Physiotherapist Intern to the ins and outs of supervision and the performance of restricted activities. In the latter half of 2020 the number of questions received increased, presumably due to the delays to the completion of the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

This episode provides answers to the most common questions Physiotherapy Alberta receives about this group of Registrants. We discuss the Swiss Cheese Model of safety, and Physiotherapy Alberta’s perspective that the Physiotherapy Competency Examination is one layer within a system designed to make sure that only competent and qualified physiotherapists are providing physiotherapy services.

As time spent in supervised practice passes, most physiotherapist interns will progress in terms of the nature and intensity of supervision that they require to practice safely, but what exactly does that mean? We discuss the differences between direct and indirect supervision and the instances where direct supervision is mandatory at the 6-minute mark of the episode.

We close with a discussion of restricted activities and the rules related to their practice by physiotherapist interns.

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Physiotherapy Alberta frequently hears from our regulated members, physiotherapists from other jurisdictions, members of the public and other stakeholders with questions regarding our name and role as a dual mandate organization. This Good Practice article will highlight the organization’s history, mandate, strategic partnerships, and upcoming changes to the work that we do. The intent is to address common questions and misconceptions about the role of the organization.

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