For all physiotherapists, HEE’s Roadmap to Practice is a game-changer
Roadmap to Practice landed at the end of last year. Its impact on physiotherapists in England in first contact practitioner (FCP) roles is significant; they will have to evidence their competence by developing a portfolio of evidence or completing recognised masters modules.
For the first time, there will be a consistent and standardised route to advanced practice roles in primary care. The assurance of quality and standard of practice this will bring is welcomed, as it puts an end to a workplace and postcode lottery previously dictated by local governance.
What then does this mean for the profession as a whole? For those who practice in Wales, Scotland or Ireland? For those in advanced practice roles outside of musculoskeletal? For students and new graduates? For experienced band 6s? The answer is clear – for all physiotherapists working in all roles, in any country, at any level, this is a game-changer.
Health Education England (HEE) worked quickly to publish the roadmap and are building credentialing documents for other areas of advanced practice. So, regardless of the area of practice you are in, get ready. It is likely that you too will be asked to demonstrate how you meet a set standard, show that you are working clinically to the appropriate academic level and can validate your next promotion. Such disruption should be embraced, providing both a challenge to rise to and a clearer and more aspirational career structure.
The roadmap aspires to provide a structured career pathway from pre-registration to advanced practice. Students will gain valuable exposure to primary care through practice-based learning; spend time in clinic with FCPs, understand the role first hand and allow the future workforce to be inspired, busting the myth that advanced practitioners are ‘too specialist’ to be involved in student placements.
Once qualified, the roadmap provides a new focus on career progression with educational governance and high-quality supervision at its core. HEE’s vision here is to be applauded. For too long AHPs have been the poor relation to our nursing and medical colleagues when it comes to investment in formal postgraduate educational opportunities. England is seeing investment, universities in Wales are developing FCP modules, and hopefully the creation of similar opportunities in Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow. This will all create a culture of learning, structured development, and tangible career goals.
Let us remind ourselves that the roadmap is only applicable in England, so with the devolution of health in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland this introduces new challenges to a nationally mobile profession. There are concerns it will be harder to transfer clinical careers between countries as well as a sense of the unknown. What approach will they take? Will they be ‘left behind’?
The differences in both health care delivery and funding models further creates challenges in comparing service delivery and educational governance.
The home countries are at different levels of FCP establishment. Many of the required building blocks are however already in place. Scotland, for example, has a robust post graduate careers framework defining progression of practice and has an established digital platform where e-portfolios will be housed. Building on the Scottish work, Wales has developed their own post registration framework describing the characteristics, role responsibilities, knowledge, skills and behaviours, and educational requirements for each level of practice. Such frameworks lend themselves perfectly to supporting and clearly articulating career progression, ultimately providing a step-by-step map to advanced practice.
A key message here for ALL practising physiotherapists is the importance to get our own house in order. We must be able to plan, evidence and reflect on how we as individuals develop and grow throughout our career in each of the four pillars of practice. Employing structured supervision, using existing frameworks and accessing postgraduate educational opportunities, together with gaining clarity about the reality of each level of practice is vital. Regardless of country, sector, specialism or level, being able to evidence your capability, reflect on your practice and demonstrate your learning is essential. We believe the roadmap has implications for all and urge you to familiarise yourself with it.
Professional advice team
The CSP’s Professional Advice Service gives advice and support to members on complex and specialist enquiries about physiotherapy practice, including professional practice issues, standards, values and behaviours, international working, service design and commissioning, and policy in practice.
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