September 16, 2021
On September 14, 2021, the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) announced that despite their staff’s sincere and sustained efforts to re-launch the virtual clinical component of the PCE, the attempt was deemed unsuccessful. The re-launch began on September 8, 2021, with two subsequent administrations on September 11th and 13th. CAPR’s full announcement can be found at https://www.alliancept.org/announcement/clinical-exam/ .
It is the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists’ (NSCP) understanding that the CAPR Board of Directors directed CAPR staff to cancel the virtual examination and return focus to administering the face-to-face clinical component as CAPR has successfully done prior to the pandemic. The timeline to deliver the clinical component is still to be determined. CAPR also stated the innovation agenda will once again be a priority and include discussion of the overall examination program.
The NSCP’s primary mandate is safety of the public. Focus on this mandate has been, and will continue to be, maintained through this difficult period for our current and future registrants.
The PCE is the national benchmark for entry level competency for Physiotherapists in Canada and has two components, a written Qualifying Exam (QE) and a practical clinical component. In Nova Scotia, applicants that have successfully completed the qualifying exam may apply for a Provisional license and work as a Resident under a practicing physiotherapist (sponsor) limited to 12 months or 2 unsuccessful attempts of the practical component. With CAPR’s early efforts through the pandemic of moving the written qualifying exam to a virtual format and the NSCP’s decision to extend residents’ licenses beyond the 12-month limit, graduating physiotherapists have been able to work under a Provisional License in Nova Scotia. Claims that cancellation of the clinical component of the exam and subsequent failures to successfully run a virtual version of the clinical component may have reduced access to physiotherapy care in Nova Scotia are inaccurate. The NSCP does recognize that residents are limited to work in practice settings/sites that have a sponsor available and willing to accept them. The NSCP would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the various clinical sponsors for their ongoing commitment to supporting the next generation of Physiotherapists and extending their commitment to this essential role during the pandemic once again.
With the virtual clinical component of the exam now being cancelled with no definitive timeline for a face-to-face clinical component and in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances the pandemic has placed the residents and sponsors in, the NSCP Board of Directors have decided to create a path to full licensure for some affected residents that wish to apply. The path will meet the NSCP’s legislated requirements, public mandate of ensuring competency and mandate of regulating in the public interest. Staff have been directed to provide a detailed process for Board review on October 20, 2021, adhering to the following principles:
• The process will be an interim measure for some of the affected candidates and be limited to the time that the national competency standard: clinical component is not available to residents. When a national competency standard: clinical component is available, the NSCP will support this standard requirement for full licensure.
• The application process will apply only to residents that have been actively licensed on a provisional basis for 12 consecutive months or greater.
• The process must not erode public confidence in full licensure as a Physiotherapist
• Current and all future applicants must be made aware of the risks of licensure without successful completion of the PCE with regards to labour mobility
Please note, as this process continues all communications to staff, and volunteers must be professional and made through appropriate channels. Therefore, we ask that all correspondence on board matters be directed to email@example.com. The NSCP Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers mandated to speak with one voice representing the public interest.
NSCP updated ourPCE Cancellation FAQ on June 23, 2021. NSCP staff had requested Dalhousie Physiotherapy student representatives provide questions from their classmates that may not have already been addressed in our FAQ. Six questions and answers were added to the FAQ (see the last 6 questions on the page). Thank you to the student representatives for collecting the questions from their classmates.
Coincidentally, the CPA issued an open letter to CAPR on Friday June 25, 2021 related to the relaunch of the PCE. We are aware of the letter and believe all of the questions raised are addressed on our FAQ. For example, theCPAreferences the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) cancelling their practical exam requirement as an equivalent situationto our current PCE issue. While NSCP recognizes why parallels to the MCC situation might be brought up by CPA and/or its members it is important to understand the context and differences between the MCC’s entry level competency program and the Physiotherapy entry level competency Fortunately, this context was addressed in our FAQ update and the relevant question is included below:
The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) announced they will no longer require the practical exam for Medical Residents moving forward. Why can’t this be done for physiotherapy?
The situations are different. The Medical Council of Canada has an accepted and established minimum 12 month post graduate medical training requirement that must be completed in order to get the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC). This allows the MCC more flexibility in cancelling the practical exam while considering other options. Physiotherapy does not have a standardized, effective, and mandatory 12-month post graduate training requirement to fall back on.
Physiotherapy does have mentorship; however, this is quite different from the post graduate training requirements of the MCC. Mentorship is non-standardized and therefore subjective. Mentorship was set up to develop a mentoring and learning relationship for entering practice. It is not a validated evaluation tool but an indicator of areas to further develop. Not all provinces have it and it is different from province to province. Each school has slightly different programs and clinical experiences and that is why a non-biased national exam run by a third party is so important.
It is important to realize that CAPR has been looking at alternative ways to evaluate competency since before the pandemic. However, the research, development and psychometric validation takes many months to complete. CAPR’s current immediate focus is running an exam that is valid and will clear the backlog as soon as possible. When the pandemic first hit CAPR’s focus was on developing a virtual written exam to get new graduates qualified for provisional licensure so they could enter the work force and begin consolidating their knowledge and skills.
NSPA (the Nova Scotia Chapter of the CPA) has been a valued stakeholder in this process providing the NSCP insight into local CPA member’s perspective on this issue.
We will provide ongoing communications as we learn more and will keep you apprised of the situation.