New education guidelines provide tools for building the profession

Three new sets of draft guidelines on professional education are about to be sent to WCPT member organisations for feedback. They will play an important role in developing programmes, and supporting the growth of the profession in underserved areas of the world, according to the WCPT Executive Committee, which appraised progress on the guidelines at its meeting in London in March.

The three documents cover clinical education, faculty qualifications and continuing professional education. Once completed, they will complement the existing guidelines on professional physical therapist entry-level education.

Such guidelines are different from WCPT policy declarations or position statements, emphasised WCPT Secretary General, Brenda Myers. “Our guidelines are tools to help member organisations achieve the objectives set out in policies,” she said.

She emphasised how they are part of an effort by WCPT to provide resource materials that will be of particular value in those countries where there is no existing physical therapy education programme or education is in its early stages. The guidelines will provide means by which the profession can be built up according to internationally agreed standards.

“There is a significant shortage of physical therapists globally resulting in poor access to services in many countries,” said Marilyn Moffat, WCPT President. “WCPT firmly believes that the key to improving access is by investing in professional entry level physical therapy programmes. With a cadre of qualified physical therapists, a plan for the long-term delivery of physical therapy services in the country can be developed and delivered.”

She points to the immense potential for the profession to develop in countries such as China, for example, where there is little sign of a dominant physical therapy organisation, and educational programmes are limited. “These documents will help the profession build from the ground up in such environments. But we hope they will also help prove useful to well-established member organisations which want new tools for progressing further.”