Practice means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses his or her skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in the profession. For the purposes of the registration standard on recency of practice, practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes: working in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients; working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles; and any other roles that impact on the safe, effective delivery of services in the profession and/or uses the individual’s professional skills.
Supervision, for the purposes of these guidelines, incorporates elements of direction and guidance. It is a formal process of professional support and learning which enables a physiotherapist under supervision to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice, and enhance public protection and safety. Supervision may be direct, indirect or remote, according to the nature or context in which practice is being supervised.
Direct supervision is where the supervisor is physically present on the premises when the physiotherapist under supervision provides clinical care, to observe and work with the physiotherapist under supervision.
Indirect supervision is where the supervisor is easily contactable and is available when needed to observe and discuss clinical management with the physiotherapist under supervision in the presence of the patient/client.
Remote supervision is where the supervisor is contactable to discuss clinical activities, but is not on the premises or required to directly observe or participate in the clinical management.
Mentoring is considered, in the context of a re-entry plan, as a relationship in which the mentor facilitates the personal and professional growth and development of another practitioner (the mentee). Mentoring may
also be relevant where a practitioner is changing their scope of practice. The mentor assists with career development and guides the mentee through professional networks. The mentor relationship is considered by the Board to be less formal than that of a supervisor role. However, there are elements of mentoring in supervision arrangements.
Supervisor is a health practitioner with current general registration who has agreed to assess and monitor a physiotherapist undertaking supervised practice and report to the Board about the performance of the physiotherapist under supervision and who, in the opinion of the Board, is suitably qualified and experienced (usually a minimum of three years’ experience). The registration of a supervisor should not be subject to conditions or undertakings that would impact on their ability to effectively supervise the physiotherapist under supervision. Only in exceptional circumstances would a health practitioner who is not a physiotherapist be considered as a supervisor.
Physiotherapist under supervision is a physiotherapist holding limited registration, or registration with conditions or undertakings that requires supervision and who is practising under the direction and oversight of a supervisor to meet the objectives of a supervised practice plan.
Competency assessment is an assessment undertaken by a supervisor of a physiotherapist under supervision. Where the supervised practice is clinical in nature, this assessment would usually be undertaken using the Assessment of Physiotherapy Practice (APP) Instrument (Dalton M, Keating J, Davidson M 2009)2, a tool based on the Australian Standards for Physiotherapy (Australian Physiotherapy Council 2006)3. The Board retains discretion to require alternative methods of assessment. A competency assessment can be used to justify, or inform any amendment to, supervised practice plans and is usually included in supervision reports. The minimum level of competence expected at the end of the period of supervision is that of an entry-level practitioner capable of meeting professional standards as set out in the Australian Standards for Physiotherapy.
Supervised practice plan is a plan that is agreed between the supervisor and physiotherapist under supervision and is approved by the Board. It sets out the objectives, level, type and amount of supervision required, and how the supervision is to occur. It should reflect a balance between the need for supervision, the current level of training, competence and scope of practice of the physiotherapist under supervision, and the position in which the physiotherapist under supervision will be practising. The Board may require a competency assessment at an agreed time after commencement of supervision to justify a supervised practice plan. Supervisors may also propose amendments to a supervised practice plan after the start of supervision, where change is justified.
Supervision report is a document detailing progress against the supervised practice plan and incorporates a competency assessment using the APP tool, unless otherwise agreed by the Board. Supervision reports include information about whether or not the elements of the supervised practice plan are being achieved and, if not, measures to address them. Also included are any emerging issues and changes in supervisory arrangements, including changes in level of supervision over time. Supervision reports are to be submitted to the Board at agreed intervals. Additional supervision reports may be required where there are changes in circumstances or concerns about the physiotherapist under supervision.
2The Assessment of Physiotherapy Practice Instrument is available on the University of British Columbia website.
3See the Australian Physiotherapy Council website. This document provides a benchmark for the knowledge, skills and attributes of a safe and effective entry-level physiotherapist.