Professional development essentials

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Professional development essentials

A woman in a green top sits at a computer in front of bookshelves.

From career growth and registration requirements to protecting patients and expanding knowledge, continuing professional development is a crucial part of physiotherapy. Here’s what you need to know.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important part of being a practising physiotherapist in Australia.

It is a requirement of renewing your registration each year that you declare that you have complied with the CPD registration standard.

As a physiotherapist, you will get the most out of meeting your CPD requirements if you are motivated and your learning is highly personalised, building on your existing knowledge and experience.

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia is responsible for setting the CPD requirements for physiotherapists in Australia and publishes related standards and guidelines on its website.

Why CPD is important

Consumers have the right to expect that physiotherapists providing regulated health services will do so in a competent and contemporary manner and CPD can improve competence and result in better outcomes for patients or clients.

Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, practitioners who are engaged in any form of practice are required to participate regularly in CPD that is relevant to their work to help them deliver appropriate and safe care.

CPD is how health practitioners maintain and improve their knowledge, expertise and competence and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their working lives.

How do I find a CPD activity that suits me?

The board does not assess, endorse or provide CPD courses—it is up to individual physiotherapists to undertake learning that relates to their scope of practice.

A hands-on clinician’s CPD activities are likely to differ from those undertaken by a physiotherapist working in research or management.

If you are thinking of changing your practice, you should plan your CPD to support the change.

The board’s guidelines for CPD include examples of accepted activities.

The guidelines also include an optional template for keeping a CPD portfolio—click here for more information.

All learning activities that help you maintain competence will be accepted as CPD, including formal learning and non-formal and incidental learning activities.

Formal learning activities include tertiary courses; accredited courses; work-based learning contracts; conferences, forums and seminars; undertaking research and presentation of work; courses leading to degrees, higher degrees and research degrees; online learning (interactive discussion and chat rooms); in-service education programs; making presentations; and videoconferencing.

Non-formal and incidental learning activities include reflecting on day-to-day experiences, reading books and journals, secondment and/or contact with other professionals, quality assurance activities such as accreditation, participation in committees, information sharing at meetings, discussion with colleagues and internet research.

These guidelines apply to all physiotherapists, excluding students and physiotherapists who have non-practising registration.

Minimum requirements

The board’s Continuing professional development registration standard sets out the minimum requirements for CPD for physiotherapists.

To meet this registration standard, you must:

  • complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD each year
  • participate in activities that contribute directly to maintaining and improving your competence in your chosen scope of practice
  • maintain a portfolio that documents all CPD undertaken.

Auditing of CPD

Your compliance with the CPD standard may be audited from time to time.

You should maintain records of your CPD activity for at least four years in case you are audited.

If you are required to provide the board with evidence of your CPD activities, your personal portfolio will help demonstrate that you have met the requirements.

A CPD portfolio should include:

  • a personal collection of evidence of ongoing development
  • a record of learning goals and reflection and evaluation of non-formal and incidental learning
  • a record of attendance at formal learning activities.

The registration year starts on 1 December each year and finishes on 30 November.

If you are audited, you will be asked to provide evidence of your CPD for the previous registration year.

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