By Nicola Phillips, IFSPT Registration Board Chair, U.K.
In July 2010, the first registration meeting was held among the interim Registration Board. This process allowed peer review and assessment of submissions from countries that were aiming to achieve IFSP recognition of their national professional development pathways towards specialty recognition in sports physiotherapy.
At that meeting, formal approval was given to the Sports Physiotherapy Specialty routes in Australia, UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland. The process in New Zealand was also approved pending government recognition in that country, which will hopefully take place in the very near future. There are also a number of countries ready for registration, as well as a several others with existing pathways that may be close to submission.
This was a major step in the direction of achieving an international accreditation process for sports physiotherapists. Since then, a further meeting has taken place to discuss how this process can be developed and formalised, with the following decisions made:
Registration Board membership:
- Representation from each WCPT/IFSP region
- Individual academic expertise in specialist assessment
- Individual clinical expertise in specialist assessment
- Term of office would generally be four years following invitation, when place will be reviewed. Re-invitations are possible.
- Board sits separate to committee structure within IFSP
- One EB member should be on Registration Board
Accreditation of national programmes
Applications from member countries would be seen as a peer review process and assessed using set criteria:
- Entry level to the profession at a minimum of graduate level (BSc)
- Specialist recognition at a minimum of Masters level
- The scope of practice of sports physiotherapy must be in line with IFSP competencies
- Clearly defined assessment criteria and processes
- A national database detailing levels of accreditation/specialty recognition
- Quality assurance of assessment process
- A procedure for auditing Continuous Professional Development
Once national accreditation is achieved, members of those national organisations will be considered as internationally-recognised sports physiotherapists or sports physical therapists once they have completed their own country's specialty requirements. There will be an additional charge to individuals who wish to receive a certificate of accreditation from IFSP, and remain on its database because of administration costs. The exact cost will be decided in the coming months.
This process is still in an earlier stage of development and will only be open to individuals NOT from countries which already have an IFSP- recognised national programme. A minimum MSc level will be expected and there will be a portfolio review and/or an examination component to establish clinical expertise. It is still undecided how this will work in practical terms, as it is obviously quite complex to co-ordinate internationally.
Short course approval
The Registration Board will also be able to accredit or approve short courses developed in different member countries. These would usually be clinically-oriented courses which would be mapped to IFSP competencies. An application form has already been developed to facilitate this, and it is expected that this process will start to roll out if the system is approved at the General Meeting in June.
The application form provides details of the course title, aims and learning outcomes, which language(s) it can be delivered in, the level of practitioner it is aimed at, number of days, any assessment details and any course documentation. Details of costs would be provided and learning outcomes would be expected to be mapped to IFSP competencies. There will be a cost to the review process, which is yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to be in the region of the delegate fee for one person, as a broad estimate. Reviewers would also be interested as to whether the course could be delivered in other countries or whether the delegates would need to travel to a specific location, as well as any courses that might be internet-based or accessible to distance learners.
This development is expected to provide a significant benefit to members. All IFSP members would receive membership discounts for these courses.
MSc programme approval
IFSP approval of MSc courses is also seen as a potential benefit to members as well as a marketing opportunity for those institutions delivering the programmes. The approval process will follow similar lines to that of the short courses. The end result will be that IFSP members will have a clearer idea which portions of the IFSP competencies each programme delivers to help develop their individual learning and profession development plans. As detailed in the IFSP accreditation process, no single course can lead to becoming a specialist, as experiential learning over a number of years is also needed. However, the approved MSc programmes will be in a position to show that the content fulfills a significant part of the IFSP accreditation requirements. There will, again, be a cost to this approval process relative to the registration fee at that institution.
As you can see, there is a lot happening and in the coming year many of these plans are expected to be implemented throughout IFSP membership. However, in order to be succsessful, it will require all member countries to participate by sending in applications for course approval so that as wide a range of opportunities as possible can be disseminated through our expanding website.