Specialisation in Physiotherapy - Conceptual framework
Physiotherapists' specialization aims to improve the quality standards of physical therapy practice and to promote continuous professional evolution.
The following are considered essential as a reference guidelines of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) on this issue, namely the following assumptions:
- Physiotherapy specialisation are areas of study and practice in a specific area, within the scope of practice recognized as physical therapy, which allows physical therapists to acquire and demonstrate additional in-depth clinical knowledge and skills, in relation to those necessary for access to the profession and professional title.
- There should be a fully documented formal process for specialization, acknowledging the skills, especially clinical.
- Specialization shouldn’t be considered a practice limitation. The field of activity recognized as physical therapy will remain open to all appropriately qualified physical therapists.
- A specialist physical therapist is expected to practice and/or teach in his clinical specialization area of practice, and also to contribute to education and evaluation of professional practice, with a view to improve the services provided. They are also expected to conduct research projects and contribute to the development and dissemination of knowledge in the respective area.
In essence, three substantial elements should be considered in specialization process:
- Possession of an advanced graduate course, with academic recognition;
- The demonstration of competences (skills) clinical and proven experience, in the area of specialisation;
- The development of competences in the area of research (critical analysis of published research, as a support to a practice based on scientific evidence, with a published contribution to the development of knowledge in the area of specialisation).
The Board of the Order of Physiotherapists considers that the profile of the specialist fits clearly within the descriptors of the master's academic degree, this being a potential route, but not the only one, in the formal process of recognition of specialist status.
The granting of specialist status assumes that his holder regularly demonstrates that he continues to deserve this status, through a formal process of renewing his clinical knowledge and skills.
It is considered prudent to recognise only a small number of fields of specialization, in line with international practice or countries of reference, if possible. Whenever there’s no justification for an autonomous field of specialisation, an alternative skills certification system should be created.
Creation of the Quadro de Especialidades Profissionais de Fisioterapia in Portugal
One of the attributions of the Order, set out in Article 4 of its StatutesThe aim of the title of specialist is to "confer the title of specialist on physiotherapists who meet the requirements laid down by the competent bodies".
According to paragraph j) of article 26 of the Statute of the Order of Physiotherapists, it is the responsibility of the Board of the Order to propose to the General Council, the creation of the list of professional specialties in physiotherapy.
The preparation of the proposal for this framework is included in the 2022 activity plan and continues the work already started in the framework of the Installing Commission.
Achieving the goal of creating the Specialties presupposes a set of internal stages and will necessarily culminate in a period of public discussion of the project before its final approval.
The working documents will progressively be made available to the members of the Order in a special tab on reserved area.