title-background-dark-circle-1 title-background-dark-circle-2 title-background-light-circle-1 title-background-light-circle-2 title-background

Message from the Registrar: Cancellation of PCE Clinical Component

The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta – College + Association is aware the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) cancelled the November 2020 clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) on September 25, 2020. We have heard from many PCE candidates on the provisional register in Alberta over the last few months, prior to CAPR making the announcement and after.

Prior to the exam being cancelled, many candidates expressed concerns with exam safety, the possibility of having to travel, and, of course, the uncertainty as to whether the scheduled exam would occur due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 across the country.

Following the exam cancellation announcement, many shared personal stories expressing their concerns about the impact of this decision. We have heard from registrants about how the exam delay affects:

  • Employment opportunities and earning potential due to supervision requirements
  • The ability to pursue additional training related to specific areas of practice
  • Exam stress and fears regarding successful exam completion due to the period between completion of entry to practice education and the exam

The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta acknowledges and shares these concerns - both those regarding the ability to host the exam safely, and those related to the potential current and enduring impacts of the delay.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of all of us, and PCE candidates on the provisional register are no exception. We understand your disappointment and frustration with the exam being cancelled and the continued requirement to work under supervision as you look forward to the next steps in your physiotherapy career.

We also understand the impact the pandemic has had on the ability to host licensing exams. Exam disruptions have been experienced by many professions. We have participated in regular meetings with CAPR to fully understand the challenges they have faced and the options they have considered to offer a reliable, valid exam during this pandemic. We are confident CAPR has and continues to consider alternate ways to deliver the clinical component of the PCE during the pandemic and beyond. We have and will continue to support these efforts.

CAPR’s commitment to offering alternate, valid and reliable exam methods was demonstrated as they successfully transitioned to a remote proctored written exam. They focused their efforts on this transition early in the pandemic, due to the recognition that successful completion of the written component allows candidates to be registered on the provisional register in all jurisdictions and to start working as a physiotherapist intern.

Registration requirements are enacted in legislation for the purpose of ensuring that only duly qualified and competent individuals are registered with the College and afforded the title of physiotherapist. The Health Professions Act (HPA) and the Physical Therapists Profession Regulations (PTPR) have not been amended during the COVID-19 pandemic nor did the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta request amendments to registration requirements. As a self-regulating profession we are responsible for ensuring all regulated members have the skills, knowledge and competence the public expects from physiotherapists.

The clinical component of the PCE is the objective measure approved by Council to assess these skills, knowledge and competence. Successfully meeting all registration requirements assures the public there is an acceptable and uniform standard of physiotherapy practice in Alberta and across the country. Waiving the requirement to successfully complete the clinical component of the examination is not an option.

The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta is confident that CAPR will be able to deliver a clinical exam in early 2021. We are part of the ongoing discussions regarding the exam, are actively monitoring new developments and assessing the situation, and are committed to contributing to solutions.

Fortunately, the PTPR allows for extensions on the provisional register and offers flexibility in fulfilling supervision requirements.

The PTPR allows for registration on the provisional register to be extended when extenuating circumstances arise. In March, the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta extended all provisional registrants when CAPR announced cancellation of the clinical component PCE in June. Recently, the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta extended all Provisional Register practice permits to the end of the current registration year (September 30, 2021). This allows registrants to consider and select any CAPR exam date that will allow you to receive your results before September 30, 2021.

The supervision model for provisional physiotherapists is in place to ensure safe delivery of physiotherapy services to the public. It allows individuals to work in various settings and for the level and type of supervision to vary depending on the experience, skills and needs of the provisional physiotherapist. Individuals on the provisional register for an extended period are likely to transition over time to indirect methods of supervision for much of their practice.

Registration requirements such as licensing examinations are one part of what it means to be a member of a self regulated profession. The government has granted physiotherapists the privilege and responsibility to regulate ourselves, trusting us to put self interest aside in favor of promoting the public interest, protecting public safety and maintaining public trust.

Each and every regulated member is responsible for this privilege and expected to assist in the task of self regulation, even when this is difficult. It is the dedication of regulated members like you that builds the strong foundation of trust between the profession and the public. We are confident in the ability of physiotherapists to rise to the many challenges this pandemic has posed, and to continue to put the public interest first as solutions are sought to the current barriers to offering the clinical component of the PCE.

Page updated: 20/04/2022