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A Letter to Canadian Physiotherapists
By: Maggie Bergeron, BSc, MSc(PT), Co-Founder and CEO of Embodia

There are now thousands of Physiotherapy Residents waiting to be licensed in Canada due to a global pandemic and an inability to administer a clinical exam by CAPR (Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators). 

Some residents are unable to practice at all, others are working under a provisional license, and many are choosing to leave our profession altogether.

The stress, financial losses, reduced access to services, and impact on our profession is unacceptable.

At this time "The CAPR Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all administrations of the Clinical Component in 2021 as they are currently scheduled."

If you would like to learn about the backstory and timeline of events, we have written this blog for you: ‘Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE) Clinical Component Cancelled for Third Time – Is it Time for a Change?’ (this blog was last updated on April 8, 2021). 

Residents and the physiotherapy community have asked for transparency, communication, and a conversation to at least consider other approaches. 

As someone who considers herself an innovator, the notion that ‘we have always done it this way’ - or in the case of the clinical PCE: we have done it this way for the past 26 years, is not an acceptable reason to continue doing it this way.

Conviction and convenience don't exist on the same block.

We have to be willing to be inconvenienced by new information in order to have a positive impact on the future.

In the CAPR 2019 Annual Report (ironically called ‘Building a Foundation for Innovation’), the message from the president includes the following quotes:

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” — Chinese Proverb

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." — Socrates

In 2020, the winds certainly blew and gave them (and all of us) the opportunity to embrace the new and let go of the old. 

What has happened instead, is not indicative of an innovative mindset or the opportunity to build the new with the changing times.

Perhaps continuing with the clinical PCE is the way forward, but what has been requested by the community is an opportunity for collaboration and transparency (also two of the values listed in the CAPR 2019 Annual Report).

As an evidence-informed physiotherapist, you might be asking yourself what kind of research is there to support the reliability and validity of the clinical PCE.

There are two research papers that I am aware of:

There is another study frequently cited as support for the Clinical PCE, so this must also be taken into consideration: ‘What Ontario Physiotherapist Data Says about Risks to Competence’. You can read about it here on the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario website.

The impact of the ongoing cancellation of the Clinical PCE will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the profession and the ability of the general public to access physiotherapy services.

This week alone I have received 14 emails from clinic owners looking to hire. We will also likely continue to experience a shortage or worsening shortage of placements for students as clinicians and owners simply aren’t able to take on the additional hours that go into providing quality clinical experience for our PT students.

In Ontario, some PT Residents cannot float from unit to unit to cover days off, leading to scheduling conflicts (hospital specific). Currently, Ontario hospitals are in an all-hands-on-deck situation that includes redeploying staff, including physiotherapists - some of whom are being trained to provide vaccinations. 

Finally, the mental, emotional, and psychological toll that this past year has taken on our PT Resident colleagues is unspeakable. I have no words to express my disappointment, angst, and frustration to all of the Residents and Internationally trained Physiotherapists. Your Embodia team and I stand in solidarity with you. You can reach out to me at any time and I am happy to assist, or if nothing else, be a listening ear.

I am calling on the compassion and courage of all of my colleagues across the country to join this conversation. It may not feel like it will impact you, but I can assure you, it will. Whether it’s in the public’s perception of PT, our stakeholders trust in our profession, the availability of staff, our interprofessional relationships, or the degradation of the Canadian PT brand. It is time for a conversation. Please step forward.

Here are 4 ways to step forward and join the conversation:

  1. Join the upcoming PCE webinar with Darryl Yardley on Saturday, April 24th. Register here.

  2. Sign this petition

  3. Complete this 100% anonymous, 2-minute survey on the 'Impact of the 3X (now 6X) Cancelled Physiotherapy Competency Exams'

  4. Send a letter to your MP or College. Kids Physio put together these helpful templates.

Here’s to innovation, creativity, and collaboration,

Maggie Bergeron

PT, Co-Founder & CEO of Embodia

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