AMP education and training framework–seeking your input


In 2017 the APA Board of Directors approved the formation of the Advanced Musculoskeletal Practice Advisory Panel. This group was tasked with developing a transferable national education and training framework for advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapists (AMPs), and is now seeking your participation in this process.

Advanced physiotherapy practice involves a role that, through custom and practice, has been performed by members of another profession. Advanced practice roles require additional training as well as significant professional experience and competency development. Typically in these roles, physiotherapists take responsibility for assessing, investigating, diagnosing, management planning and discharge decision-making for patients who would otherwise be seen by medical staff, predominantly in public health services.

It is well recognised that advanced physiotherapy roles are beneficial across settings, including emergency, orthopaedics, neurosurgery and rheumatology. Advanced practice services are being delivered in most states and territories and in some are now accepted as a normal part of the musculoskeletal workforce. Despite this, there remains wide variation in their governance, particularly in the education and recognition of competence of the physiotherapists delivering such services.

Although many jurisdictions have implemented successful training programs, there is no nationally recognised endorsement of advanced physiotherapy practice. While personalised, site-based training may be adequate for an individual, it may not be acknowledged elsewhere, which limits workforce mobility. Advanced roles carry advanced risks due to the autonomous nature of the role, level of responsibility for decision-making and the bias towards diagnostics; ad hoc training may pose a higher risk, clinically and from a role sustainability perspective.

In the interest of their patients, it is clearly desirable that the national AMP workforce:

  • be suitably trained
  • undergo recognised, reproducible and nationally transferable training and assessment reflecting their competence
  • work within sound systems of clinical governance.

For health services, the availability of a nationalised AMP pathway may assist with:

  • development, improvement and sustainability of AMP services
  • recruitment and retention of appropriately skilled physiotherapists
  • workforce mobility
  • providing a platform for advocacy
  • risk mitigation and safety.

For physiotherapists themselves, the undertaking and completion of a nationalised pathway may offer:

  • improved role recognition and remuneration
  • an avenue for career progression
  • improved professional flexibility.

Building on the successful Victorian Department of Health AMP Pathway (the emergency arm of which was endorsed by Health Workforce Australia during the Expanded-Scope of Practice—Physiotherapists in ED Project in 2012), the AMP Advisory Panel has developed an AMP Standard of Practice. It comprises core elements of advanced practice including key clinical domains such as advanced use of radiological investigations, and also professional components such as communication, scope definition and commitment to lifelong learning. The panel also considered the area of practice in which AMPs are working, and established competency criteria for a variety of areas of advanced musculoskeletal practice, including spinal and orthopaedic clinics, emergency, orthopaedic postoperative and rheumatology settings.

The APA Board has approved the formation of a governance model to guide the development of advanced practice, as well as the formation of an Advanced Practice National Group with a formally elected committee for 2020 (the AMP Advisory Panel will continue to provide strategic advice to the APA Board until December 2019). Consultation on National Group structure and sub-interest areas will be conducted in 2019 through the APA National Advisory Council.

Establishing an Advanced Practice stream in the Australian College of Physiotherapists to award credentials and oversee training programs has also been approved. The College will develop formal requirements to reflect the level of competence from Highly Developed to Expert (refer to ‘Physiotherapy Career Pathway Competence Framework Version 6’ on the APA website).

The AMP Advisory Panel will soon invite feedback on the proposed competence standard and issues related to its national implementation. Comment on the AMP Standard of Practice is welcomed not only from AMPs but also from any physiotherapist at any point in their career. It is also possible that the APA AMP framework could present a foundation on which other areas of clinical practice can build a similar endorsement (eg, cardiorespiratory, neurological or obstetric and gynaecological advanced practice).

Click here to register your interest. For further information email (In providing your email you are requesting to receive news about the engagement schedule as it becomes available.)


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