Special thanks to Niamh Cushen and Tina O’Connor in Vancouver for preparing this article to assist others find physiotherapy jobs in Canada.
Note: This article is written for Vancouver, British Columbia, but the advice is applicable to all provinces in Canada.
First things first, when deciding to come to Canada as an internationally educated physiotherapist you will need to apply for credentialing. This involves your qualifications being assessed and compared to those of a Canadian graduate. To do this you need to apply to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy regulators, based in Toronto. An overview of the registration/credentialing process can be found here:
Along with all the documents required here:
The process can take a while. For example, right now they state on their website that it can take from 22 to 49 weeks but for us it took over a year from posting it in Ireland to being eligible to apply for the exams. As part of the credentialing process it is highly likely that you may be required to do an orientation course on the Canadian healthcare system. We did ours through the University of Toronto but there are other options available. Although we did this when we were told we had to, it could be worth exploring the option of doing it earlier as it is only offered three times per year and delays the process somewhat. Obviously you should research the likelihood of you having to do it first, but it is something worth being aware of.
When your credentialing is through you are eligible to apply for the written and practical components of the PCE (Physiotherapy Competency Exam). The written exam is sat six times per year and the clinical component is sat twice per year. More information can be found on the Alliance website:
Once you are registered for the next available sittings of both the written and clinical components of the PCE you can then be eligible to apply for work. If you can get an employer who is willing to supervise you, you can then apply to the College of Physical Therapists of BC for interim registration. More information is available here:
I can’t give a huge amount of info on exams as we are currently at that stage, but I can say that therapists in Canada are very friendly and helpful so if you ask around you are bound to get plenty of help.
When it comes to looking for jobs, plenty of work in private practices exists. It is also useful to look through the health authority websites for more info. The main ones in Vancouver are Fraser health, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Provincial HSA (http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/socsec/).
Although it is a long and often stressful process, it is definitely a worthwhile option as there are job opportunities in Canada for physiotherapists. If you start the credentialing process as early as you can and delay moving over until you are nearly at the exams stage, you will find it easier to look for work. Waiting for credentialing is definitely the most frustrating part of the process as it is just a waiting game and is completely out of your control once you have sent of your documents. You can prepare for the exams.
Best of luck with your Canadian adventure. All the paperwork and the hoops you have to jump through are most definitely worth it — just start early!
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