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Physiotherapy Scope of Practice in Alberta

On May 1, 2024, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) published a physiotherapy scope of practice position paper. The role of the CPA is to advocate on behalf of physiotherapists, and the College affirms the CPA’s role in this regard.

However, Appendix B of the document, which purports to summarize the current state of physiotherapy scope of practice across the country includes several errors. See the graphic below for correct information about the current state of physiotherapy scope of practice in Alberta.

The College is concerned that the errors in the CPA document pose a risk to the public and for physiotherapists in that:

  • It sets expectations for patients and members of the public that physiotherapists cannot meet while still following College and legislated requirements.
  • It confuses registrants as to what activities they are allowed to perform.
  • It can result in unauthorized practice, AND
  • It can lead to patient harm and patient safety incidents if physiotherapists practice beyond their individual skills and knowledge due to confusion or in response to public demands.

Registrants must remember that:

  • The provincial government defines the scope of practice of the physiotherapy profession through legislation.
  • The College has published several resources on the topic of how scope of practice questions are addressed in reference to new and emerging areas of practice, available on the CPTA website here, here, here.
  • When considering a scope of practice question, the first question is always ‘what does the legislation say?’ But that is only the first question, not the entire conversation.

Some physiotherapists may also work as supervisees of members of other health professions.

  • In that capacity, the individual may perform activities that are not within the legislated scope of practice of the physiotherapy profession. In such cases, the supervisor is responsible for the services provided and for supervising the physiotherapist’s services.
  • Registrants of the College who are working as a supervisee of another profession may be adding value to the health system, however, they are not providing physiotherapy services when working under the direction and assignment of another health profession.
  • Registrants must not use their professional designation when providing non-physiotherapy services and are directed to comply with the requirements of the Dual Registration Standard of Practice to keep physiotherapy and non-physiotherapy services separate and distinct.

It is in the public’s interest to receive appropriate care from a health professional trained, competent, and authorized to provide the service that the client needs. The public interest is not served by having health professionals deliver services that fall outside of legislation or the individual provider’s skills and knowledge.

Physiotherapy Scope of Practice in Alberta Infographic Physiotherapy Scope of Practice in Alberta Document

Page updated: 08/05/2024