Part One: Rethinking Professional Development

Professional development (PD) keeps our skills relevant. It’s continued learning throughout our career so we stay up-to-date with the changing nature of the profession.

PD can be both formal and informal:

Formal Informal
Accredited courses
Reading books and journals
Conferences, forums and seminarsDiscussions with colleagues
Undertaking researchInternet research
In-service education programs Reflection – what could I have done better?

Why is PD important?


What was once common practice – and even the gold standard – can prove to be completely useless with more time and research. Electrotherapy and, in particular, therapeutic ultrasound, is a classic example of this.

PD helps up to provide the best level of care based on what we know at the time. Our patients deserve this.

Legally, it’s in our best interest too. We can practice safely by updating our skills.


Doffing our mortarboards (those peculiar square hats) should not mark the end of our education. A bachelor’s degree serves as a foundation to build on.

Although, we’re considered experts of the human body and movement once we’re a physio, we’re still very much amateurs as new graduates. PD upgrades our knowledge and lets us honestly move into the expert territory.

Becoming skilled means we know our limitations. We have the ability to know when we’re out of our depth and can rightfully refer on a patient. While previously, (in the ‘hazard’ phase) we might have selfishly and arrogantly held on.


We can use our PD as an opportunity to focus on an area of interest. Whether women’s health, sports or even something that’s not necessarily clinical or conventional. For example, researching how an app can improve exercise adherence. Or, investigating the effectiveness of Telehealth.

It’s motivating to think of PD in this sense. Rather than yawning as we crawl through another research paper that we have no interest in. We can instead pursue something that has meaning to us. It could change the way we practice for the better. Or, it could have broader implications for the profession at large.

Meeting the standard

So, what are our PD requirements at the moment?

  • Maintain a record of our PD such as seminars attended, courses completed or articles read
  • The PD must maintain and improve our competence
  • We are to complete twenty hours of PD each year
  • We only need to show proof of our PD if we’re audited
  • Go here for more resources

Missing the mark

And, what happens if don’t do what’s required of us?

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia give a rather vague description of the punishment. ‘Appropriate action’ will be taken. This could mean:

  • Undertaking more PD or supervised practice
  • Imposing conditions on our registration. Typically, this means having to declare our PD at the year’s end (like a naughty schoolboy)
  • Disciplinary action is also listed. Push-ups, perhaps?

These imprecise sanctions play second fiddle to the real price of not doing our PD: a lower level of care for our patients. It’s unjust and lazy.

Pivotal PD

Now, we appreciate why PD is so important. Stay tuned for the next post on the pros and cons of our current PD system.

What do you make of PD? Are you happy with how it’s policed? What changes would you make? Comment below.

Author: Andrew Cammarano

Andy writes about anything that comes to mind. Oftentimes, he repeats himself. So, if you read a post and ask yourself, "I feel like I've read this before." Chances are you have. Apart from writing, he eats a diet high in peanut butter, he exercises (and suffers from a chafed butt from performing too many sit-ups in pursuit of a six-pack) and comes up with many fantastical ideas, like his peanut butter-based chafe cream. Reach out to him to share your opinions (or if you'd like to become his chafe cream business partner).

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