On Thursday, March 25, 2021 the governing Council of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta held an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing unavailability of the Clinical Component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) and potential strategies to address the registration delays registrants on the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s Provisional Register have experienced as a result.
Section 3 of the Physical Therapists Profession Regulation (PTPR) establishes the registration requirements for individuals applying to the General Register of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta. Section 3(c) of the PTPR reads:
An applicant for registration as a regulated member on the general register must:
(c) have successfully completed a clinical competency examination approved by the Council.
The Physical Therapists Profession Regulations are established by Council and come into force once they have been approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC). Any changes to regulations require LGIC approval and very careful consideration as they are not temporary. Council of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta needs to be confident registration requirements established in the regulations uphold and protect the public interest. At this time, Council will not be requesting the registration requirement of requiring a clinical competency examination approved by council be removed from the Physical Therapists Profession Regulation; however, have committed to reviewing these requirements in the future.
The only clinical examination currently approved by the Council of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta is the PCE administered by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR). However, in response to the ongoing delays in the delivery of the Clinical Component of the PCE, Council has decided that it will explore options available for an alternative clinical competency examination to potentially approve.
The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s priority is to identify an objective, valid, and reliable assessment tool for use in an alternative examination process so that the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta may be confident that successful completion demonstrates that the candidate possesses a minimum entry-to-practice level of competence in the provision of physiotherapy services, thereby fulfilling the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s mandate.
Should an alternative clinical competency examination be identified, this will only be available to those candidates who were:
- Registered on the Provisional Register of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta on the date that the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, March 11, 2020, and
- Registered on the Provisional Register for the entire period beginning March 11, 2020 and continuing until their attempt at the alternative clinical examination, and
- Registered to complete one of the cancelled clinical components of the PCE in June 2020, November 2020, and March 2021.
Council has determined that even if an acceptable alternative is identified, the following individuals will not be eligible to participate in the alternative clinical competency examination at this time:
- Those who have attempted the Clinical Component of the PCE prior to the pandemic and who were unsuccessful in their attempt(s) to pass the examination.
- Those physiotherapist interns who are involved in a current conduct investigation of their physiotherapy practice or who have a history of a conduct investigation (in relation to a complaint filed with the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta regarding their physiotherapy practice) which resulted in an investigation and recommendations, facilitated resolution, or conduct findings.
- Former PCE candidates and applicants to the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s Provisional Register who have exceeded the permitted time-period of two years or number of examination attempts permitted for the completion of the clinical component of the PCE.
If the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta can successfully identify an alternative clinical competency examination, eligible physiotherapist interns will have the option to complete the alternative examination, or to await the availability of the Clinical Component of the PCE administered by CAPR.
Finally, eligible physiotherapist interns are advised that every province in Canada is bound by its own provincial legislation. A solution for Alberta may not be available or acceptable to other Canadian jurisdictions. In the past, Canadian physiotherapy regulators have worked to achieve a harmonized registration approach for regulated physiotherapists to facilitate labor mobility under the Agreement of Internal Trade.
Should a temporary alternative clinical competency examination be deemed feasible in Alberta and should a candidate choose to complete this examination in order to fulfill their registration requirements in Alberta, the candidate accepts the risks that this course of action may pose should they wish to move to another jurisdiction in the future.
The current singular focus of the Council of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta is finding solutions for those examination candidates who have been affected by the unavailability of the Clinical Component of the PCE due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent March 2021 examination cancellation. Although Council has heard requests that the Physiotherapy Competency Examinations, both written and clinical be abolished, this is not an action that would be taken lightly. Council has committed to reviewing the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s registration requirements in the future, once current, pressing issues have been addressed.
The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta remains committed to sharing information with PCE candidates as it becomes available. The best place to find updated information is through our website or through direct email messages from the College. We encourage you to check the website for updates on a regular basis.