Physiotherapy Day in the year of COVID-19


As we celebrate Physiotherapy Day 2020, the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (the Board) reflects on the past 12 months. 

This year is undoubtedly a year that looks very different from the years past.

The history of World Physiotherapy Day is ultimately about celebrating the unity and solidarity of the global physiotherapy community and the work physiotherapists do for their patients and the community.

The theme for this year, which focuses on the profession’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, certainly highlights this point.

The Board has worked continuously to modify its regulatory approach to support the profession through the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining patient safety.

Since March, the Board has made a series of pragmatic decisions to temporarily modify regulatory requirements.

These changes include taking a more flexible approach to CPD requirements and the release of a new set of national principles for clinical education through COVID-19 to support students to continue their studies and graduate throughout the pandemic.

While encouraging registered physiotherapists to continue to do CPD in 2020, the Board will not take action at renewal this year against practitioners who cannot meet the CPD standard as a result of the pandemic.

Another significant development is the inclusion of physiotherapy among a small number of priority health professions on the pandemic sub-register.

The pandemic sub-register was launched early April following a request from Australia’s health ministers to enable more health practitioners to return to practice requirements. 

On 20 April 2020, physiotherapists who have held registration in the past three years were added to the sub-register and those with capacity to help were encouraged to return to practice.

As of 1 July, there were 2072 physiotherapists among the 35,098 doctors, nurses, midwives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists on the pandemic response sub-register.

Board chair Kim Gibson congratulates practitioners on all the positive work they are doing in the current circumstances.

‘There has been no bigger pressure on practitioners than during this COVID-19 pandemic.

From the introduction of telehealth to enforcing social distancing, diligent infection control procedures and adapting their role to directly support health services manage the community pandemic response, physiotherapists have demonstrated their key role in the health workforce,’ she says.

‘With consideration for the current circumstances and the additional pressure on practitioners, I’m taking pause on World Physiotherapy Day 2020 to remind all practitioners to take time for self-care.’

A great resource for practitioners is AHPRA’s Taking care podcast, which delves into the changing health landscape from a practitioner perspective.

>> Visit the Board’s website for more information. Visit the COVID-19 information page for updates relevant to all health professions under the National Scheme.

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