Graduate Certificate in Bridging to Canadian Physical Therapy Practice

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Graduate Bridging Certificate Mission: To facilitate the integration of internationally educated physiotherapists into the Canadian healthcare workplace through education, mentorship, and clinical experience. This 12-month program, offered in a blended format, consists of five courses: two academic courses, two concurrent mentorship courses, and one clinical placement course.

The Bridging Certificate Program operates in a cohort model with one intake per year, and all students are required to complete all five courses. Academic course work designed purposely for Internationally Educated Physiotherapists (IEPTs) supports the development of the additional knowledge, skills, and clinical reasoning required to meet Canadian entry-to-practice standards. Cultural and workplace orientation is provided through mentorship and clinical placement to help integration into the workplace.

Now accepting applications for 2022-23 intake. Virtual admissions assessments (no need to travel)  are scheduled throughout Winter/Spring/Summer 2022.

Normally the total cost for the Graduate Bridging Certificate is approximately $11,000 - 12,000. However, for the 2022-23 program the faculty is able to extend a subsidy via course waivers to reduce the total course tuition fee cost to $8,800.

CHART - Financial Advantage for IEPTs completing the Graduate Bridging Certificate Program

Who Should Apply?

The Bridging Certificate program is designed for physical therapists educated outside of Canada whose physical therapy education and qualifications have previously been assessed by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (The Alliance).

Applicants can apply to the program if they are:

  • Credentialed by the Alliance
  • Eligible for the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) but want to enhance preparation
  • Not successful in one or more Physiotherapy Competency Examination attempts
  • A Canadian Citizen OR Permanent Resident of Canada
Application to The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators for a Credential Assessment is the starting point in Canada. www.alliancept.org
Why Bridging?
One of the most comprehensive pathways for Internationally Educated Physical Therapists (IEPTs) to meet Canadian standards is through participating in a "bridging program". A bridging program offers significant advantages for IEPTs through courses designed specifically to bridge to the knowledge, clinical skills and judgment required to deliver safe and effective physiotherapy care and support to adjust to Canadian culture and practices.

A bridging program is more beneficial when physical therapy knowledge and skills are current and experience working as a physical therapist is recent. IEPTs are encouraged to consider the bridging program as soon as they have received their credentialling letter from the Alliance. A comprehensive bridging program supports those who do not have experience practicing as a primary care physiotherapist (independent or autonomous practice) or have other major learning needs.

How will the Bridging Certificate help you?

  • Provide insight into your current physical therapy knowledge and skills
  • Increase your understanding of how physical therapy is practised in Canada
  • Provide valuable Alberta clinical experience
  • Enhance your clinical reasoning, professional communication and record keeping skills
  • Support you to manage cultural differences
  • Provide you with exam skills preparation for the national physiotherapy competency exams
  • Provide you with access to faculty and mentors
  • Develop your network of peers preparing for the same goal

Please note:

  • The bridging certificate builds on the physical therapy knowledge and skills developed in the entry-to-practice education outside Canada and work experience as a physical therapist.
  • The bridging certificate emphasis is on guiding learners to apply their knowledge and skills in patient scenarios initially practiced in the classroom and then progressed to the clinical setting in mentor and clinical placements.
  • The bridging certificate does not guarantee successful completion of the PCE, registration with the College of Physical Therapists of Alberta or post-registration employment. It does offer opportunities, structure and support to enhance knowledge; professional and communication skills and networking opportunities to develop skills that can greatly assist you in becoming registered.
Please contact the Graduate Bridging Certificate Program team (iept@ualberta.ca) as early as possible to receive advice and support in exploring academic options. The team will work with you to plan how to fill your professional requirements with the shortest time away from employment as a physical therapist as possible.
Program Description

The Graduate Bridging to Canadian Physical Therapy Practice Certificate program runs once a year from August to the following August. This 12 month program, offered in a blended format, consists of five courses: two academic courses, two concurrent mentoring courses, and one clinical placement course. Our delivery format supports adult learners to manage the majority of their study time at the time of day that best fits their needs. The on-campus lab component takes place once every two weeks. A visual map of the program can be found here.

The Bridging Certificate program also includes a one week full-time academic introduction (August) and one mandatory clinical placement which is 6 weeks full-time. As well, a physical therapist practicing in the local community is assigned to each IEPT as a mentor and guide for learning integration and application. Mentors will provide access to clinical experiences 3-6 hours a week during the time the academic courses are running. The mentorship experience will take place during regular working hours. Clinical placement is offered during the months of June, July or August. The Bridging Certificate program will take a minimum of 12 months to complete. The timing of the clinical placement may extend the total time to complete.

Progress in the program will be assessed using written and practical exam formats.

Program Locations

The on-campus components will be offered at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. Clinical placements will be at University of Alberta affiliated sites.

Application Eligibility
To be eligible to apply for the Alberta Bridging Certificate program, the following are required:

Degree in Physical Therapy

Applicants must hold a degree in physical therapy from a university outside of Canada that has been assessed and recognized by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. The Alliance must verify that an applicant's educational qualifications meet Canadian standards through credentialing (www.alliancept.org). Applicants will be asked to fill out a Verification Request Form and submit it to the Alliance at the time of application (please note that this form cannot be completed until after an applicant has completed the credentialing process).

English Language Proficiency

Language proficiency is a very important part of the application process. Since English is the language of instruction and a key requirement for professional communication in Canada all applicants must be proficient in English prior to admission.

To succeed in academic courses, applicants must meet the minimum standard described below. While the bridging program does offer skill development in professional communication, applicants who require additional language support must obtain these communication skills prior to applying to the Bridging Certificate program.

Test of English as a Foreign Language iBT (TOEFL iBT), with a minimum score of:
  • 92/120 overall with no subtest lower than 21
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) academic (AC) with a:
  • Score of 7.0 overall and at least 6.5 for all subtests
All passing scores must come from one sitting of the language assessment and must be taken within two years prior to applying to the bridging program.

The testing institution should send the results to the University of Alberta (Institution code: 963 and PT Department Code: 619). Scores more than two years old cannot be verified; therefore the applicant would be required to re-take the test.

The Department of Physical Therapy reserves the right to require further demonstration of English language proficiency (Section 203.2.4 of the University of Alberta Calendar).

Authorization to Work in Canada

Applicants must prove they are eligible to work in Canada, as verified by Canadian citizenship or permanent resident card or open employment authorization, which does not limit studies or work in health care. Additionally, students with open authorization to work must also have a study permit.

Applicant Commitment

Applicants must be available to meet the academic expectations for:

  • Hours in home based studies and on-campus
  • Clinical placement (plan for six-week, full-time clinical placement)
  • Computer literacy and continuous computer and email access

A newer PC or Mac laptop computer (no older than approximately two years old) will be required. It should be capable of running the latest versions of Firefox or Google Chrome, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader.


Students will be eligible to purchase discounted software from the Microstore on the Main University of Alberta (North) Edmonton campus.

Application Process and Admissions Assessment

Admissions Assessment Application

Please email us at iept@ualberta.ca or call 780 492-2903 if you required information regarding application process.

Required Documentation

Applicants will be required to submit the following documents as scanned copies at the time of application. Original copies may be requested at a later date.

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, as well as English translations where applicable
  • English Language Proficiency test results
  • Proof of completion of a Context of Canadian Practice course (a list of acceptable and unacceptable courses can be found here)
  • Current immigration status documents
  • Current resume

You will also be required to submit a Verification Request Form directly to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators to confirm the status of your credentialing in Canada. The form can be found here.

Applicant Selection and Admission

Please Note: All communication from the Bridging Certificate program with applicants is by email. Please ensure you check your email account daily.
  • Applicants who meet all the admission requirements will be considered for the Admission Assessment
  • Up to 36 IEPT applicants may be invited to the Admission Assessment

A three-stage process will determine your admission to the program.

Stage 1: Review of Application Documents
The application and supporting documentation are checked to determine if they are complete and match the admission requirements. Incomplete files will not be considered.

Applicants with language proficiency score that is close to but below the minimum standard may be asked to participate in an alternative communication assessment. There are no exemptions from language proficiency requirements.

Stage 2: Admission Competency Assessment (virtual)
Qualified applicants will be invited to attend the competency-based Admission Assessment. The Admission Assessment assesses if an applicant's current standard of physical therapy knowledge, clinical reasoning, physical therapy practice skills and practice readiness is adequate for bridging. The assessment includes:

  • a 100 question basic knowledge exam
  • six basic clinical scenarios with a standardized patient
  • six multiple mini interview (MMI) stations
  • 4-6 written questions regarding readiness for the program.

An Assessment Preparation Module will be available to invited applicants.

Applicants who complete the Admission Assessment will receive a written report on their performance. Recommendations for admission to the Bridging Certificate program are based on the Admission Assessment results and the credential requirements. Applicants who are assessed not to be ready for bridging may be advised to complete pre-bridging activities.

Stage 3: Offer of Admission E-Mailed
Offers of admission to the Bridging Certificate Program will be emailed to selected applicants after the Admission Assessment. Applicants who are offered admission will be required to complete registration forms and processes with the University of Alberta in a timely manner. Failure to meet deadlines will result in revoked offers of admission.

Please Note: There are limited spaces available for entrance into the program. It is not guaranteed that all candidates who meet admission requirements will be offered admission.

Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

REHAB 520 Professional Physical Therapy Practice in Canada I: This 14 week blended format course builds on the context of the Physiotherapy Practice in Canada course. It focuses on the development of the knowledge, skills and judgment required to deliver safe and effective PT care in the Canadian setting, clinical reasoning and professional communication. Pre-requisite: Physiotherapy Practice in Canada and/or approval of the Faculty.

REHAB 521 Professional Physical Therapy Practice in Canada II: This 14 week blended format course consolidates skills required by a primary care PT in interpretation, diagnosis and application of assessment findings and treatment plans through the application of clinical decision making model(s), critical thinking and evidence-based practice. Pre-requisite: REHAB 520.


REHAB 522 Physical Therapy Mentorship Experience I: This clinical course comprises 40 hours of off campus clinical experience at a University of Alberta affiliated facility under the mentorship of a licensed physical therapist. This course applies physical therapy knowledge, skills and attitudes learned concurrently in REHAB 520 in the clinical setting. Students advance from introductory exposure through shadowing to skill demonstration within a PT practice setting. Co-requisite: REHAB 520.


REHAB 523 Physical Therapy Mentorship Experience II: This clinical course comprises 40 hours of off campus clinical experience at a University of Alberta affiliated facility under the mentorship of a licensed physical therapist. This course builds on the application of physical therapy knowledge, skills and attitudes from REHAB 522 and learned concurrently in REHAB 521. Students advance from skill demonstration to full integration and application within a PT practice setting. Pre-requisite: REHAB 522. Co-requisite: REHAB 521.


REHAB 524 Clinical Placement: This full-time placement is completed in a University of Alberta affiliated facility and provides the clinical experience to allow for consolidation of required PT clinical knowledge, skills and attitudes. The student will be expected to independently carry an appropriate clinical caseload and demonstrate practice readiness. Pre-requisite: REHAB 522 and REHAB 523.

Program Funding Sources

Bridging Certificate students may be eligible for the following potential funding sources outlined in the table below.

Funding can be in two forms:

  • loans (needs to be paid back) OR
  • grants/bursary's (does NOT need to be paid back).

Please have a look below and if you plan to apply for either a loan or grant visit the organizations webpages or contact them directly to determine if you are eligible.

Contact AB Student Aid directly for additional information: http://studentaid.alberta.ca/contacts/

  • Windmill Microlending (formerly Immigrant Access Fund) provides micro loans of up to $15,000 to internationally trained immigrants so they can obtain the Canadian licensing or training they need to work in their field. The loan can pay for exams, training, qualification assessments, professional association fees, books and course materials, living allowance and other expenses related to obtaining the Canadian licensing or training they need. Detailed information can be found at: https://windmillmicrolending.org

Contact IAFC directly for additional information: https://windmillmicrolending.org/contact-us/

  • The Servus-Bredin Microloans for Professional Newcomers program provides loans of up to $15,000 to support professional newcomers with costs related to pursuing licensure and accreditation in Canada, including:
  • Exam fees
  • Licensing cost
  • Professional fees
  • Skills upgrading and bridging program
  • Books, laptop, study materials and work equipment
  • Education and training programs of two years or less

Key Features:

  • An affordable rate of interest of just Prime + 1.5%
  • Build credit history in Canada
  • Available to clients across Alberta
  • A manageable repayment period of up to four years with no penalty for an early payment
  • Applicants must have a licensure accreditation plan/education plan
  • Repayment for approved loans is 45-days after the loan is issued
  • The maximum amount available for each applicant is $15,000. If applicants also have microloans from other programs, the total amount borrowed from all the programs together cannot be more than $15,000. If applicants pay back their first microloan, they may be eligible for another through the program.

Basic Eligibility:

To be eligible for a microloan, applicants must:

  • Have the right to live and work in Canada
  • Be a resident of Alberta
  • Have professional-level education or training obtained outside of Canada
  • Have sufficient income or resources to make repayments on the microloan

More information about the program is available at https://www.bredin.ca/unemployed-albertans/other-services/Servus-Bredin/    and    https://www.servus.ca/new-to-canada/microloan

  • Cheung Family Graduate Award in Rehabilitation Medicine (re-payment is NOT required, 2 awards available per year, award value is $750)

Eligibility Criteria: Awarded to students with satisfactory academic standing registered in a graduate certificate program in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Selection based on demonstrated excellence in or educational experiences, clinical skills and professional activities. Preference will be given to internationally-educated physical therapists registered in a Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Bridging to Canadian Physical Therapy Practice program. Part-time students are eligible for this award.

 

  • Ann Falk Memorial Education Fund (re-payment is NOT required)

This is a bursary of up to $750 for first or second generation immigrants pursuing studies in health care and living in Edmonton.

Detailed information can be found at http://emcn.ab.ca/interactions/anne_falk_scholarship.html

To request an application, please contact: Don Baergen, 780 423 9686,dbaergen@emcn.ab.ca

 

To apply please email a 300-500 word letter outlining how you have demonstrated excellence through your educational experiences, clinical skills and professional activities to sdrefs@ualberta.ca

  • Calgary Community Foundation:Every Woman Can: The Maria Eriksen Memorial Bursary (re-payment is NOT required)

For immigrant women residing in Alberta, attending school in order to return to their pre-immigration field of work. Applicants demonstrate financial need and are currently enrolled in a recognized educational institution. Three bursaries at $2,000 each applied directly to tuition.

https://calgaryfoundation.org/grantsawards-loans/unique-awards/

How to Become a Mentor
If general program inquiries or if you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact iept@ualberta.ca.

Graduate Certificate in Bridging to CND Physical Therapy Practice
1-39 Corbett Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G4
(P) 780.492.7431
FAQs

Yes, you must have taken an Alliance approved Physiotherapy Practice in a Canadian Healthcare System course. Please see the Alliance website for acceptable courses.

Yes, we accept students from outside of Alberta as long as they are able to attend the lab days at one of our campuses.

No, you must live in Canada to take the Bridging Program as there are required in person component of the cour

You must attend one of the scheduled admission assessment days. The Admission Assessment is integral in the process of the Bridging Certificate program staff assessing if Bridging is the right path for you.

Yes, we still require an English Language Proficiency Test score within the last 2 years to ensure you meet the University of Alberta English Language Proficiency requirements unless your school or country is on the list of exceptions.

Jobs

AHS is the major public employer of Physical Therapists in Alberta. In addition to job postings, the careers section of their website has numerous resources for IEPTS

Many IEPTs choose to work as a Therapy Assistant (TA or PTA) while going through the licensing process. More information on Therapy Assistants can be found on the Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta website


Licensing

Physiotherapy Alberta - College and Association is the organization responsible for the licensing of Physical Therapists in Alberta. Information on how to register as a Physical Therapist is available on their website. In order to be registered as a Physical Therapist you must successfully complete Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE).

The Physiotherapy Competency Exam is administered by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. In order to be eligible to write the PCE you must first credential through the Alliance. This process takes approximately 5- 8 weeks to complete. Once the process is finished you will be given instructions on your next steps.


Mentors

Yes, Bridging Certificate program students are covered under the same affiliation agreement as our U of A MScPT students.

The amount of hands on involvement from the student is up the discretion of the mentor. The mentor should consider the student's behavior, performance and learning goals for the course when deciding the amount of hands on student involvement. The expectation is that students will start out with observing the contextual factor, progressing from shadow-type activities, and then move to hands on care carrying a portion of the caseload for each visit.

A mentor is different from a preceptor or clinical supervisor in that mentorship "is less instructional, focuses less on supervision and assessment of performance and more on positively influencing through role modeling and guidance". (The Canadian Nurses Association Achieving Excellence in Professional Practice - a Guide to Preceptorship)

The mentorship model is a mentor-led clinical experience that provides a focused introduction to the Canadian workplace environment. It allows the Internationally Educated Physiotherapist (IEPT), through both observation and participation, to gain knowledge of and exposure to the role and scope of practice of a physiotherapist, and the continuum of care within the Alberta health system.

The mentor model refers specifically to the clinical practice experience that will be offered to the Bridging Certificate program students integrated into two courses in the program. This is a new model of clinical experience for therapists in Alberta, one which involves significantly fewer hours per week but over a longer period of time, and ongoing feedback rather than formal evaluation, (i.e. no Assessment of Clinical Experience or ACP type tool).

Mentors are required to attend 1 full day in-person on the academic site in first week of the first course (last week of August) for orientation to the program and meeting with their assigned student. The students will spend a total of ~ 40 hours per course (6 hours every 2 weeks) at the mentor's clinical site. The actual format of the 6 hours may vary, i.e. ½ day per week or 1 day every 2 weeks.

Mentors need to be available for weekly or bi-weekly email or phone contact with instructor and/or course coordinator and available for contact from the student and / or instructor as per mentor's schedule.

In the Bridging Certificate program, mentors will monitor the progress of the student according to the module learning objectives created in class and the objectives for student learning. The mentor ensures that students adhere to professional workplace behaviors and clinical site specific policies and procedures. They also provide the student with the cultural context of Canadian PT practice, integrating them into the social culture and facilitating transition from previous work contexts.

The mentor model requires no formal, comprehensive evaluation. As this clinical experience is part of a larger academic course, evaluation consists of ongoing feedback and confirmation of achievement of module goals. Evaluation will be based on specific learning goals from each module (for example, conduct a patient interview or perform a cardiorespiratory assessment). Module goals will be communicated to the mentors for monitoring during the clinical visits. At the end of each course, a short narrative assessment will be required in a verbal consultation with the course coordinator and/or instructor.

The mentor will be accountable for the student at all times while they are on their designated mentor led clinical experience (6 hours/2 weeks) but this responsibility can be shared amongst colleagues and is often a great experience for the students. Each session does not have to be with the designated mentor only. A number of our IEPTs complete mentorships at an acute care hospital where the student is able to experience many different areas of practice

IEPTs come from a number of cultural backgrounds. Many students in the program come from India, Philippines, Nigeria, South America or Eastern Europe. Practice experience varies widely. Some have practiced only in their home country while others have worked in several other countries on their journey to Canada. Some have many years of clinical experience and some immigrated to Canada immediately after finishing their training. Many have worked as PT Assistants or Health Care Aids (HCAs) in Canada. Many IEPTs were educated and have worked in a very different model of care than what we are used to in Canada; one where directed practice and the medical model of care are the norm. Typically the IEPTs require knowledge and skills in the areas of the biopsychosocial model of care, evidence informed practice, client-centered care, clinical reasoning, autonomous practice and inter-professional teamwork. Understanding the cultural and workforce expectations in Canada are crucial to their success.

For further information, please contact:
Michelle Barnes
780.492.7431
mbarnes@ualberta.ca

The final course in the program (REHAB 524) is a 6-week full time clinical placement at the end of two terms of courses. This will be a regular clinical placement i.e. fulltime with full evaluation of performance. Normally, the mentor will not be the Clinical Instructor for this placement.

Contact
For program inquiries please e-mail us at iept@ualberta.ca.

Graduate Certificate in Bridging to CND Physical Therapy Practice
1-39 Corbett Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G4
(P) 780.492.2903