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REP 29 - What are the Career Pathways Options for Canadian Physiotherapists?

Chantal Lauzon

CPA has undertaken an environmental scan exploring various career pathways that exist within the profession, both in Canada and internationally, and within other health professions in Canada. The opportunity exists to stop and reflect on how we are doing things and to learn best practices from our colleagues.

The National Orthopedic Division (NOD) and Sport Physiotherapy Canada have created internationally recognized professional development programs. The career pathway programs currently offered by CPA are not integrated (sport diploma, ortho levels, clinical specialty program.) There is opportunity to better align career pathway programs and to expand what CPA is offering.

The goal of the environmental scan is to review and analyse comparable career pathway programs (PD, certification, accreditation of courses, specialty programs) in the health care sector in order to make recommendations for future program directions including:

     • identification of potential obstacles and challenges  

     • identification of best practices in other sectors that could be adopted  

Interviews were completed with the following stakeholders from August 2018 to February 2019.

Physiotherapy Associations, Divisions and Regulators: 

Other Canadian health associations:

The following topics were explored: specialization, credentialing, titling, course accreditation, professional development programs and conferences. Further questions helped establish organizational context and history of development of programs. Best practices, financial viability, and lessons learned were generously shared. A glossary of terms has been created to ensure clear understanding of terms that are used interchangeably.

What is next? A working group is being formed to explore career pathway options for Canadian physiotherapists. Potential partnerships with colleagues are being explored in order to leverage strengths and lessons learned. 


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I work in industrial setting and feel that there are many opportunities being missed by the preofession in not identifying that this is a very valuable way of providing physiotherapy to a large cohort of indivduals. It is  a win win for boththe employees and the bottom line of the company. I would like anopprotunity to be involved in the working group noted above..

 The program at the mill I work at has been nominated forr an award. I am including the application write up for the nimination. This is sio you may be able to see what the impact of having a physiotherapist on site can be. I also think that there could be some program specialization for this type of career path and would see this group as the place to brainstorm and deveop this.

Kind Regards

Jan Summersides BScPT, FCAMPT, CGIMS



That is perfect, Jan – thank you! See modifications:


Whole health. It is a concept that we understand but few companies embrace in their workplace. At Mercer Celgar, we have created and supported an innovative whole health workplace solution using ergonomics and physiotherapy for their team members for over 10 years. Physiotherapy involves clinical assessments, manual therapies, and prescriptive exercises in order for an individual to be able to return to work.


Lead by a highly qualified and experienced physiotherapist, Jan Summersides, we first approached Jan in 2009 to work within our mill environment to provide ergonomic and physiotherapy support. While other organizations depend upon external resources to help them facilitate a healthy workplace, we invested our resources by looking at the cost v. value of employees who were absent or not fully functional. Through an onsite physiotherapist, we have realized improved costs, performance, and the value is unmeasurable for those who are able to enjoy their lives without pain or discomfort.


Ensuring our team receives proactive health interventions and training, whether work or non-work related, Jan estimates that she has prevented the equivalent of 7 full-time people being off work equating to approximately $150,000 per person – per year. Jan accomplishes this by focusing on ergonomics, functional capacity evaluations, and workplace return-to-work treatment plans. She helps to restore their optimal body mobility and strength necessary for their job functions.


With a fully outfitted treatment room comprising of physiotherapy equipment with 2 bikes, a treadmill, elliptical machine, squat rack, balance boards, bands for mobilizing, etc., she is ready for our team. This program has grown and has continued to push the boundaries. Jan’s only barrier is time, as she sees an average of 100 – 130 visits per month, with a wait list, which enabled us to utilize an additional physiotherapist to assist Jan.


We understand that the success of the program is heavily attributed to Jan. She has been instrumental in proactively promoting health and well-being in the Celgar environment to improve the safety, comfort, and performance of the Celgar staff. Through her leadership and involvement, this has reduced the cost of work-relevant absences through onsite treatment, and has helped to improve productivity, performance, and morale.


Innovation: When an opportunity creates a solution, we all benefit.



Amber Armstrong

Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations | Mercer International Inc.

Phone: 780 624 7340 | Mobile: 780 527 9613 |



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