Physiotherapy Board of Australia - Guidelines: Continuing professional development
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Guidelines: Continuing professional development

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These guidelines apply to all physiotherapists, excluding students or physiotherapists who have non-practising registration.

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia’s Continuing professional development registration standard requires all physiotherapists practising in Australia to maintain a portfolio that documents their participation in continuing professional development (CPD) and is a record of learning aims and reflection of impact on practice.

The CPD activity must contribute to both maintaining and improving your competence in your chosen scope of practice.

A minimum of 20 hours of CPD must be completed annually. You need to make a declaration of your CPD activity to the Board as evidence that you meet the requirements of the CPD standard.

The Board’s approach acknowledges that CPD is an interactive process by which health professionals can maintain, enhance and extend their knowledge, expertise and competence throughout their careers.

Your compliance with the CPD standard may be audited from time to time. You should maintain records of your CPD activity for four years in case you are audited.

CPD is the maintenance, enhancement and extension of the knowledge, expertise and competence of health professionals throughout their careers. It is important to recognise that people learn in many and different ways and CPD may include formal and non-formal learning activities.

Consumers have the right to expect that physiotherapists providing regulated health services do so in a competent and contemporary manner. CPD can improve competence and result in better outcomes for patients or clients. CPD is important in the continued provision of safe and effective services by health professionals.

All learning activities which help you maintain competence will be accepted as CPD. Learning occurs through a wide variety of formal and non-formal activities. Examples of these are as follows:

6.1 Formal learning activities

  • Tertiary courses
  • Accredited courses
  • Work-based learning contracts
  • Conferences, forums and seminars
  • Undertaking research and presentation of work
  • Courses leading to degree, higher degree and research degree
  • Online learning (interactive discussion and chat rooms)
  • In-service education programs
  • Making presentations
  • Videoconferencing.

6.2 Non-formal and incidental learning activities

  • Reflecting on experience in day-to-day activities
  • Reading books, journals, etc.
  • Secondment and/or contact with other professionals
  • Quality assurance activities, such as accreditation
  • Participation in committees
  • Information sharing at meetings
  • Discussion with colleagues
  • Internet research.

You will learn best when you are motivated and your CPD:

  • is highly self-directed – you are responsible for deciding what CPD activities you want to do
  • is based on a personal learning plan and your individual learning needs
  • builds on existing knowledge and experience
  • links learning and practice
  • includes evaluation of the effect of learning on practice
  • involves review of the learning plan in response to personal experience, and
  • includes mentor or peer review.

It is a requirement of the registration standard that you use a personal portfolio to record your CPD. A portfolio should include:

  • a personal collection of evidence of ongoing development
  • a record of learning aims and reflection and evaluation of non-formal and incidental learning, and
  • a record of attendance at formal learning activities.

A portfolio template is available from the Board website (See also Appendix 1: Continuing professional development portfolio).

If you are required to provide the Board with evidence of the CPD activities, your personal portfolio will help demonstrate that you have met CPD requirements.

Many professional associations and workplaces provide members/employees with a personal portfolio to plan, record and evaluate CPD activities systematically. You can use any portfolio which meets the above criteria.

Your individual learning requirements will differ according to factors such as your learning style, area of practice, length and breadth of postgraduate experience and job or workplace issues. You are therefore encouraged to determine your own learning needs through goal setting and reflection.

The Board requires physiotherapists to complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD each year. If you register partway through the year, you will be required to complete five hours per three-month registration period.

When conducting a CPD audit, the Board may request documentation of CPD activity. However, it is in your interest to retain records for longer than five years, given their value as evidence of appropriate professional behaviour.

The Board expects that all physiotherapists will be able to meet the requirements of its CPD standard. However, if the Board finds, though declaration or audit, that a physiotherapist does not meet the CPD requirement, it will take appropriate action, which may include:

  • a requirement to undertake further CPD or supervised practice
  • the imposition of conditions on registration, and/or
  • disciplinary action.

These guidelines have been developed by the Physiotherapy Board of Australia under section 39 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). Under section 41 of the National Law, guidelines are admissible in proceedings under the National Law as evidence of what constitutes professional conduct or practice for physiotherapy.

Continuing professional development is the means by which members of the profession maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives.

Practice means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession. For the purposes of these guidelines, 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 safe, effective delivery of services in the profession and/or use their professional skills.

Professional development activities means participation in formal learning activities, such as attendance at courses or conferences, as well as non-formal learning gained through experience and interaction with colleagues.

Reflection of learning on practice includes the planning of professional development, goal setting and reflection on possible changes to practice as a result of learning.

Appendix 1: Continuing professional development portfolio

Appendix 2: Sample completed CPD portfolio

Last reviewed: 1 December 2015

Date of review: This guideline will be reviewed at least every five years

Page reviewed 19/07/2021