The core competences of a physiotherapist

» The core competences of a physiotherapist (pdf)

In 2013, the Finnish Association of Physiotherapists (FAP), Universities of Applied Sciences and the Physiotherapy Department at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä launched a project to define the concept of core competence. The objective of the four-year project was to describe the core competence of physiotherapists, assist in the development of physiotherapy education, and to help discern future development trends. This report aims to clarify the physiotherapist’s professional core competence. This definition will not only help physiotherapists themselves but it will promote cooperation with other partners in the health care profession. The starting point for this publication is the investigation into the core competence of physiotherapists conducted in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä. A survey was carried out with a group of selected specialists (n = 1909, response rate 37%), along with a group interview (n = 83), followed by two Delphi specialist rounds (n = 47 and 50). The results of the study are summarized in Figure 6 in the chapter on professional competence of a physiotherapist, as well as in a condensed form in other chapters of this report.

Descriptions concerning the core competence of physiotherapists have previously been prepared in several countries: The United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and, most recently, in Austria, in 2016. These have been reviewed and utilised in the drafting of this report. In addition, we have also accessed materials produced by ENPHE (European Network of Physiotherapy Education) and WCPT (World Confederation of Physical Therapy).

The focus of the report is on competence. Competence can be defined in terms of career advancement, qualifications, the accumulation of expertise, and the availability of human resources. In this report, competence refers to the professional competence of the physiotherapist and how this competence can benefit the community. Theoretical and practical competences merge when the physiotherapist works with his/her clients. Professional competences are not set in stone; they vary according to personal abilities and preparedness and include values and attitudes. The development of competence is based on many factors i.e. competence gained before formal education as well as that learned at university It continues to develop after graduation, throughout the physiotherapist’s working life and can involve various training events as well as non-formal learning.

This report on core competence uses the concept of a client, which can refer to patients, rehabilitees, even communities. A client is a person, although physiotherapy may also be used in the treatment of animals. The report describes the development of physiotherapy as a discipline and it also defines what is meant by the term physiotherapy. It describes how physiotherapy is incorporated into rehabilitation. The report describes physiotherapy education and physiotherapy as a profession. One key part of the report involves the clarification of the core professional competence that every physiotherapist should possess. The report also reviews the importance of technological advances in the work of physiotherapists. It also examines the ethical and social competence of physiotherapists. The report finishes with a reflection on future trends.