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Tim Paquette

The CPA Clinical Specialty Program is going into its’ eighth year and provides recognition of a clinical specialist who demonstrates an advanced level of clinical practice through a formal program. This program combines clinical experience in the specialty practice area, continuing professional development activities and involvement in evidence -based research.

The Goals of the Clinical Specialty Program are:

  • Meet physiotherapists’ needs for professional development of clinical skills and advanced clinical reasoning in their chosen practice area
  • Provide a vehicle for formal recognition of a clinical specialty, and
  • Provide the public with a means of identifying clinicians that have successfully met the clinical specialty program requirements in their practice area

Becoming a Clinical Specialist provides recognition as a leader in your field. The right combination of experience and education provides the Candidate with an opportunity to distinguish themself.

The CPA Clinical Specialty program certifies physiotherapists who have focused their careers and can demonstrate advanced clinical competence, leadership, continuing professional development, and involvement in research in a specific area of practice.

This self-directed program consists of a written portfolio submission and an oral presentation that is assessed by a panel of peers. The components of the program allow candidates to demonstrate their professional competencies and development as a clinical specialist.

The program is targeted to candidates who have a minimum of five years full-time applied clinical experience and a minimum of 300 clinical contact hours per year for the past five years in the clinical specialty area.


But why should the average practicing physiotherapist become a Clinical Specialist? Here are a few reasons to pursue this opportunity:

Professional growth

•Improve your clinical skills and advanced clinical reasoning in a chosen practice area

•Documentation and evidence of quality of the candidate’s submission in the form of an exhaustive evaluation report which can help the candidate identify areas of strength and areas of improvement


•Recognition from professional peers and the public which could increase the number of opportunities to carryout presentations to health care providers, patient support groups and other health groups

Patient care

•Enhance patient care through better pattern recognition, self-monitoring and reflective skills

Credibility and Accountability

•National recognition of your commitment to excellence that is transportable to every province.

•A positive public image and validation of your work and accomplishments

•Increased credibility with funding agencies/organizations

•An opportunity for staff and management to be thoughtful about their practice

At the Clinic level, why should a clinic have a Clinical Specialist on staff?

•Clinics benefit from both the status and being involved in the process of specialization since it increases knowledge level within a specialty area

•Increasingly savvy public is becoming more demanding of specialists from specific specialty areas

•Governing authorities better educated about the scope of practice standards

•Increased level of professionalism

What reasons do current Clinical Specialists provide as to why they choose to go through the program?

Maggie McIlwaine Clinical Specialist, Cardiorespiratory: “...designation as a Clinical Specialist assists other Physiotherapists in recognizing that you are an expert in a specific field and someone they may contact for advice and mentoring.”

Oren Cheifetz, Clinical Specialist, Oncology shares that “The Clinical Specialization process is worth the work for both personal and professional growth.”

Gail Kirkwood Clinical Specialist, Paediatrics identifies that for the private sector in paediatrics, families often seek out therapists who specialize in particular treatment techniques and identifies a need for promotion of the program in order for families and clients to see the benefits of the credentials.

Kelli Berzuk, Clinical Specialist, Women’s Health identifies that the Clinical Specialty Program raises the bar for constant reflection and self-improvement which in the end leads to increased quality in patient care.

Gregory Spadoni, Clinical Specialist MSK shares that the clinical specialist designation was the next ‘logical’ step in my professional journey and served to acknowledge my professional and clinical experiences to date.

Jasdeep Dhir, Clinical Specialist in MSK, believes it is important to consistently have both personal and professional goals. That is the only way we challenge ourselves to continuously develop.

As of March 2019, there are 48 Clinical Specialists across Canada and this group truly represents the best of the profession.

It is an exciting time for the program which is currently undergoing an extensive review and time will tell what changes will be made to the program in the future: Please stay tuned for more information to follow.


For more information about the Clinical Specialty Program, please visit the CPA web site under Practice Resources, or email 


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