FCP career scenario: I'm already working as an FCP in primary care in England

If you're already working as a First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP) in England, find out how to think about the roadmap, develop further and gain retrospective recognition.

An FCP in England who needs to find out more about the roadmap

I’m an FCP working in primary care in England. What should I be doing to ensure that I'm ready for when the Centre for Advancing Practice launches?

If you were already working in primary care as an FCP prior to the launch of the roadmap to practice and routes to recognition, you will need to think about the roadmap in a different way to someone who is looking to develop into the role. You will be seeking to gain retrospective recognition through your FCP supervisor and recognition on the Health Education England (HEE) FCP Directory.

Steps you can take to gain recognition

Not an FCP yet?

Find out how to develop into an FCP role by reading our career scenarios and essential information.

Not in England?

See our country-specific guidance.

Advice for FCPs

Even if you are working as an FCP, you will still have to follow stage 1 and stage 2 of the roadmap. All FCPs in primary care in England will have to complete the roadmap, regardless of how long they have already been in post. As an FCP, you will need to ensure you have a suitable supervisor in place to sign off your stage 1 and stage 2.

There are two different routes to FCP recognition noted in the roadmap: the taught higher education institute (HEI) route; and the portfolio route. As a current FCP, you may find the portfolio route the most appropriate for your level of practice and role because you should be able to evidence the aspects of the stage 1 and 2 required fairly easily since you are already working in primary care.

Advice for advanced practitioners in primary care

If you are an advanced practitioner FCP in primary care, you will need to apply to the Centre for Advancing Practice for advanced practitioner/FCP recognition through their portal. There is more information about the centre and the portfolio route on the Centre for Advancing Practice website.

You may already have an MSc that aligns with the roadmap's Knowledge, Skills and Attributes (KSAs). Depending on how long ago you completed your degree, you may be able to use some of your MSc work to populate your portfolio and map against the KSA for the non-clinical pillars of advanced practice.

Watch our video about supporting pre-registration students through placements 

How to prepare for FCP and/or advanced practice recognition

FCP roles focus on more than clinical skills. They also have a broad focus on population health, preventative healthcare, self-management, behaviour change, personalised care, health inequalities, public health principles, data collection and digital innovation. It is important that you find ways within your role to focus on these wider aspects of the FCP role and evidence this for your portfolio. For example, you could look at the King's Fund framework for the role of allied health professionals (AHPs) in tackling health inequalities for some guidance on how to implement changes in your service.

You should also be considering wider system pathologies, and working with your primary care teams can help build your knowledge and skills in these areas. You should evidence any opportunities you have to learn from other team members with critical reflections that can be included in your portfolio.

Seek out opportunities to develop skills in the non-clinical pillars of advanced practice – education, leadership and research (with clinical being the fourth pillar). For example, you could lead or collaborate on an audit, quality improvement or research project. Supervising and teaching pre- and post-registration students (from all professions) in primary care can be an excellent way to enhance your own learning as well as supporting the next generation of the workforce and evidencing your education pillar.

It is also important to think about your ability to influence the FCP agenda in your area and advocate for the FCP role and model. Having an understanding of the healthcare system in your area is critical to influencing at this level, you can learn more about Integrated Care Systems through the work of the King's Fund. Ability to evidence your influencing and leadership locally and regionally will develop the leadership aspect of your pillars and portfolio. 

You will need to find an HEE roadmap supervisor in order to complete stage 1 and stage 2. You should speak to your line manager about access to a supervisor. Your local Primary Care Training Hub will also have information about suitable supervisors. You will need to review your current portfolio of knowledge, assess your learning needs against the KSA and create a plan based on the above, your supervisor will be veryifying your final portfolio and sign off.

As well as roadmap supervision, you should also consider accessing coaching and/or mentoring to support your career development. Use the CSP mentoring platform to find a mentor.

HEE roadmap supervision

  • If you are a clinician, employed by an NHS Trust and working some of your week in primary care, your managers may already have a plan for providing roadmap supervision or be planning an opportunity for you to become a supervisor. 
  • If you are a clinician who is directly employed by a Primary Care Network, your practice manager, GP trainer or Primary Care Training Hub may already have a plan for providing roadmap supervision or be planning for you to become a supervisor. However, it is worth asking the key individuals and organisations in your area, especially to understand the roadmap supervision options locally.
  • If you are a self-employed physiotherapist working as an FCP in primary care, you will need to carefully consider your roadmap supervision plans. You should speak to your GP practice and Primary Care Training Hub. 
  • Once you are on the FCP Directory and have been signed off by your roadmap supervisor, you will no longer require roadmap supervision. However, best practice is to continue with clinical CPD supervision. 
  • Once you are on the FCP Directory and have been signed off by your roadmap supervisor, you will meet the criteria to attend the Roadmap Supervision Verification (RMSV) course and become a roadmap supervisor yourself. This would support your service and local system by providing roadmap supervision options for the future FCP workforce. 

Evidence your experience

Portfolio route

If you are planning to go down the portfolio route (as opposed to the taught HEI route), you should start to gather evidence for your portfolio as soon as possible.

You could use an online tool such as the CSP ePortfolio to collect the evidence. Make use of the reflective elements to ensure you can demonstrate learning from activities rather than just describing the activities themselves. Remember, your portfolio should be written at level 7. Watch a webinar on how to build a portfolio at level 7 by the Advanced Practice Physiotherapy Network. You can get some more tips on developing your evidence from this Frontline CPD article.

As you are already working in primary care, you will need to complete both stage 1 and 2. Your portfolio will then be reviewed and signed off by your HEE roadmap supervisor. Although the deadline for completion of this has been removed by HEE, it is best practice to have this process completed within six months of starting work in primary care or starting to develop your portfolio. Within your portfolio, you will need to apply the KSA for FCP and show evidence of meeting these at level 7.

The KSA can be found in the roadmap document. Use the portfolio tools that are linked to from the HEE's FCP landing page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and a link to a Sharepoint page with many digital tools can be accessed via the 'FCP – ACP toolkits' box. These resources can be used to build and maintain your portfolio. 

You may decide to develop your portfolio to meet the KSA across the four pillars of advanced practice, rather than focusing on the single clinical pillar for FCP. In this case, you would submit your portfolio to the Centre for Advancing Practice for central sign-off to gain HEE advanced practice FCP recognition (stage 3). Alternatively, you can become verified as an FCP by your supervisor and then continue working towards advanced practice.

Enhance your education

If you are already an FCP in primary care, you will still need to complete stages 1 and 2 of the roadmap if you haven't already. This includes completing the e-learning modules on MSK in primary care (8 modules) and personalised care (personalised care planning, social prescribing, MECC, patient-centred care).

If you have appropriate experience, consider joining one of the organisations who have mapped their programmes to stage 1 of the roadmap. If you have completed the MACPs route to membership process or a the full SOMM post graduate diploma you may have already completed stage 1 within this process. You access further information about these organisations here: the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP) and Society of Musculoskeletal Medicine (SOMM) – see the HEE roadmaps to practice page for updates.

You may already have a relevant MSc. Depending on how long ago you completed your degree, you could find your learning objectives and module descriptors and map these to the KSA. You could also use your assignments as part of your portfolio. If your MSc programme was not very recent you could demonstrate its currency by including a reflective piece on new research and guidance that have happened since completing it. 

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