In 2018, there were 32,000 registered physiotherapists. To be a physiotherapist in Australia, a 4-year full-time undergraduate degree must be completed. All throughout, a student of physiotherapy acquires full-time clinical education as well as clinical training supervised by registered physiotherapists.
Physiotherapists in Australia are grounded upon a broad scope of practice. Through an integrated healthcare system, physiotherapists practice with other relevant fields such as nursing, allied health, and other medical teams. On the other hand, physiotherapists enjoy a sense of autonomy in practice in a way referrals are not needed for accessible physiotherapy service. Provided this, there is no definite restriction by which they can operate in practice. This implies that physiotherapists can work in clinics, hospitals, with various kinds of patients and with a wider spectrum in medical healthcare.
Physiotherapists in Australia, registration with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia must be done. The regulation body is part of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Provided the Australian Physiotherapy Council regulates the registration requirements of physiotherapists, the practice follows a strict code of conduct. Moreover, the Australian Physiotherapy Association also supports the physiotherapy profession in Australia.
Clinical respiratory physiotherapy practice
The majority of physiotherapists who specialise in the respiratory system operate under the public healthcare system. Mostly, they focus on the following areas of practice:
· Acute respiratory care
· Cystic fibrosis
· General medicine
· Higher dependency/specialist care
· Outpatient rehabilitation
· Post-surgical care
Although private hospitals provide services in similar areas, respiratory physiotherapy practice is not common to private hospitals. Furthermore, there is an emerging scope of practice in physiotherapy that focuses on areas such as bronchoscopy, intubation, and advanced tracheostomy.
Respiratory physiotherapy training in Australia
Cardiorespiratory is one of the major areas wherein physiotherapists must prove their competency to receive a qualification in Australia. Cardiorespiratory medicine, therefore, covers respiratory medicine. Physiotherapy education is provided with the necessary theory and practice training involving cardiorespiratory medicine. Clinical training usually lasts 4-6 weeks. Through this training, physiotherapy students are likely to acquire direct experience with managing respiratory-specific diseases and their management. Over the past years, there is continuous progress with clinical stimulation that aims to improve the experience and learning of students in the field.
Physiotherapy specialisation in Australia
The strict regulation standards of physiotherapy in Australia affect the “titling” procedures. Usually, physiotherapists have only known as “physiotherapists” nothing more, nothing less. However, there are cases where practitioners are able to apply for titles such as “cardiorespiratory physiotherapist”. Furthermore, there is a small group of practitioners who acquired specialisation education under the Australian College of Physiotherapists who are referred to as “Specialist Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapist”. These two cases are the exceptions by which the title of the physiotherapist is expanded. Completing a postgraduate activity can further expand the academic and clinical standing of a practitioner as they are granted with a “Dr.” title. Still, individuals who acquire such level shall still be considered as physiotherapists.
The emergence of new training models
Over the past decade, there has been tangible evolution in the Australian physiotherapy. It allows it to compete with the national and international marketplace. As a result, changes within the course structures were manifested and hybrid models existed. Through this model, courses can only be accessed whenever a student pursues a postgraduate degree. Such an example of diversification within the profession leads to a diverse array of qualifications. In this case, universities and colleges alike can offer bachelor degrees and master's qualification. Some may require a research thesis for completion. Honors such as “Doctor of Physiotherapy” can be given to graduates of such degrees. Also, changes in the education system can lead to confusion. Nevertheless, in the end, a graduate of physiotherapy in Australia is just a new graduate that is registered to practice.