Supporting the development of a Clinical Exercise Physiologist - FAQs

Following the CSP's move to support the development of a voluntary register for Clinical Exercise Physiologists (CEPs), it is now a registered profession.

The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), incorporating the Registration Council for Clinical Exercise Physiologists (RCCP) opened the register for CEPs in January 2022.

This is a voluntary register which all CEPs are encouraged to join as it displays that they meet the set of standards and scope of practice of the profession and ensures they are safe to practice and remain safe to practice throughout their career.  

The register is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority  

As of 8 March 2023, there are 57 registered clinical exercise physiologists. 

Frequently asked questions

Are all CEPs eligible to register with the RCCP?  

No. There will be two routes to acquire registration. A CEP must either pass an accredited degree programme at MSc (Level 7) or complete the equivalency process whereby applicants must show evidence of an MSc level of knowledge and skills through 6 years of overall experience as a CEP. This can be a combination of 3-4 years of education plus 2 – 3 years of clinical experience. 

Which universities offer an accredited degree programme?  

This is still to be determined. The routeway for HEI accreditation opened in January 2023 so currently none of the 57 registered CEPs were eligible via the MSc route. There are some UK universities currently completing the accreditation process. If they are approved and therefore accredited, graduates from these universities will be eligible for registration with the RCCP.  

CEP-UK have developed a curriculum framework for an MSc Clinical Physiology degree that forms part of the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) degree accreditation. The CSP provided feedback on this curriculum framework.  

What work will a registered CEP do?   

This will be in line with their scope of practice. CEP scope of practice encompasses apparently healthy individuals to those with chronic and complex conditions, along the care pathway from primary prevention, through to acute management, rehabilitation and maintenance. Interventions are exercise or physical activity-based and also include health and physical activity education, advice and support for lifestyle modification and behaviour change. CEPs work in a range of primary, secondary and tertiary care settings as part of a multidisciplinary team of health care and rehabilitation providers and in community settings.  

CEPs specialise in the prescription and delivery of evidence-based exercise interventions to optimise the prevention, treatment and long-term management of acute sub-acute, chronic and complex conditions. The work to develop a registered CEP profession has involved re-defining the scope of practice for a UK clinical exercise physiologist which has been adapted from published materials from Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) 

Why not just train more physios to meet the demand for clinical exercise interventions, given that exercise is a pillar of physiotherapy practice? 

Council upholds and recognises exercise as a cornerstone of physiotherapy practice in the UK. 

The provision of high quality clinical exercise is playing an increasing role in public health and rehabilitation interventions and there is a growing need for patients and populations to access it. 

Council believes the physiotherapy workforce is central to delivering exercise interventions but demand for clinical exercise, both now and in the future, cannot be met by expanding the physiotherapy workforce alone. 

Council recognises one way forward to address this issue is to support the profession to work more collaboratively with an exercise workforce whose safe and effective practice can be assured.  

Does this move mean that pre-registration physiotherapy education will change? 

Not necessarily. A pre-registration education review was already planned by the CSP and in 2021 the KNOWBEST project was conducted by the University of Hertfordshire for the CSP. The aim was to understand and map the essential knowledge, skills and attributes now required of physiotherapy graduates, and how pre-registration training can best prepare the physiotherapy workforce for the future.  

Knowledge and skills in a range of treatments were identified as being essential for key areas of physiotherapy practice  - particularly exercise and includes strength and conditioning, exercise therapy , evidence base for exercise and exercise prescription. The need for newly qualified physiotherapists to appreciate the part they play in a modern multi-professional team, what their unique professional skills are and their skills within a wider team were also highlighted.  

Read the 2022 KNOWBEST report and recommendations here. The CSP is now working with all key stakeholders to determine how recommendations from this project can be implemented.  

Will CEPs be doing the jobs that B5 physio currently do? 

No. The scope of practice of a UK registered CEP is not the same as a band 5 physiotherapist. 

Band 5 physiotherapy roles are a key part of the career development of a physiotherapist and will not be wholly replicated by CEPs. Whilst there are some overlapping skillsets between professions, physiotherapists have a specific set of standards of proficiency (SOPs) they have to meet upon registration with the HCPC. These are broad and go way beyond just providing exercise interventions and are unique to our profession.  

The CSP will continue to ensure the new CEP role complements contemporary UK physiotherapy practice and contributes safely and effectively to high quality patient care.  

Our support workers provide exercise interventions and run our exercise classes, will the CEP development take away that role?

Support workers play a crucial role in the physiotherapy workforce and delivery of care. Many support workers already have exercise qualifications of varying levels and deliver exercise as part of a wider role.

We believe that through the new registration of CEPs, their role is clear and complements the existing workforce in a positive way and contributes safely and effectively to high quality patient care, without taking away any pre-existing roles.  

Could I undertake a level 7 CEP programme to complement my physiotherapy knowledge and skills? 

There is no reason why not. Any physiotherapist wishing to study CEP is able to do so as long as they meet the university’s admission criteria. Many already choose to undertake postgraduate study in exercise prescription and physiology to complement their physiotherapy practice. 

Entry requirements for an accredited CEP programme are an undergraduate degree in a sport and exercise science (or related area), with a minimum 2:1 degree classification.  

What work has the CSP done to support members since council opted to support the new registration for CEPS?  

The CSP has been working with a number of CSP members and other stakeholders to develop resources to showcase how the physiotherapy profession can work collaboratively with CEPs and other exercise professionals. 

In February 2023 the CSP launched the Collaborate, don't compete project. A series of videos and case studies highlight how the physiotherapy workforce is central to delivering exercise interventions and by taking advantage of the unique knowledge skills and experience of all professions, we can work collaboratively to enhance our delivery of exercise in rehabilitation pathways.

Is there any further work planned?  

The new CSP 2023-27 Strategy has been launched and aims to have a confident and influential physiotherapy community. This includes creating a collaborative community of rehabilitation and exercise professionals.  

This is a 5 year strategy and the organisation is in the planning phases therefore further work is yet to be defined.  

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