Chartered Physio comes up Trumps

Who to choose? They both make promises and do agree on certain issues but still they have very different ideas on very important agendas. Some obvious, others subtle little differences. One is female, the other male. One promises to work together to break down barriers, the other assures you they will eradicate the problem, create boundaries and send it packing. One certainly seems qualified for the position at hand; vetted, worked their way up through the ranks with an impressive, appropriate CV, specific for the job. We’re not so sure about the others’ credentials for the role, a successful background but in a different area. Surely they’ve got the appropriate qualifications also? And then we hear mixed stories about their past. Some can’t recommend them highly enough, others have made comment on extreme inappropriateness. It’s just so confusing. Can they be trusted? But you take the information presented and make an informed decision. What more can you do? So who gets your vote to work as your health care professional?


There is ongoing confusion amongst the public when it comes to physiotherapy, created by the many people working under variations of the name: ‘physical therapist’, ‘physio’, ‘sports therapist’, ‘chiropractor’, ‘osteopath’, ‘spinologist’, and so many others. Why I say this is that during consultation often patients will tell me they’ve been attending a physio when really they’ve been attending somebody who has done a sports massage course. As well as the ongoing confusion there is also ongoing conflict amongst the professions in Ireland, specifically physical therapists and Chartered Physiotherapists. Might I add now that this is not a personal attack on any physical therapist. There are some excellent physical therapists, some I know providing a quality service. The issue is that now physical therapists want to be recognised as being on a par with their Chartered Physiotherapist counterparts. And for some reason The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) , the professional body representing physiotherapists, are having difficulty in putting this issue to bed. Coru, a state regulator, is to come in to play in the next few years and with new arrangements for registering the situation arises where anyone who has called themselves a physical therapist or a physiotherapist can gain access to the register, regardless of qualification. This has lead to an ongoing legal row over protection of title.

In Ireland a student looking to pursue a career as a physiotherapist enters the University system to undergo a Bachelor of Science degree for 4 years. During this time they will undergo modules in physiology, anatomy, neurology, exercise therapy, biomechanics, manual therapy, research methodology and others including a research project. On top of this they spend 1000 hours of clinical training in a hospital setting, supervised by experienced professionals committed to life long learning and also having the opportunity to work with other health care professionals in multi disciplinary teams including occupational therapists, nurses, radiologists and consultants. During an orthopaedic placement as a student I had the opportunity to visit the operating theatre and observe some surgeries in action. On one occasion the orthopaedic consultants registrar was late ‘scrubbing in’ so he pointed at me for help during a hip replacement. I got more than I bargained for that day when the sawing commenced but what a fantastic, up close and personal experience. You can find out more information about the ISCP here.

Let’s consider some other common professions and make comparisons of the above situation. A teacher who doesn’t gain the necessary supervised experience as a student but wants to be able to teach in schools and be recognised as a qualified teacher with the regulating body. Or an electrician who does not serve his full time as an apprentice and wants to get certified and hit the road in a van getting contracts to wire houses. A plumber who only trained at the weekends but now thinks they can go install the latest modern heating  or gas system. Are any of these scenarios likely to unfold as realities? So what about the ‘physio’ who has completed, in some cases, a 6 week course looking for the same recognition as someone gone through a 4 year degree.

Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Chartered Physiotherapist:

1. Safety & Dignity: Chartered Physiotherapists adhere to the highest standards of practice and service, and set the benchmark for professional Physiotherapy practice in Ireland.

2. Excellent Knowledge: Choosing Chartered means having undergone learning far beyond just the musculoskeletal system with the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems all equally as important meaning identification of conditions other than simple muscle strains.

3. Commitment to Continuous Professional Development (CPD): Chartered Physiotherapist commit to the continuing development of their professional expertise and ethical practise through taking part in post graduate training, Masters and research.

4. Dedication to the Advancement of Physiotherapy: Physiotherapists who become Chartered demonstrate full engagement with the profession and a dedication to the development and advancement of physiotherapy. Being a Chartered Physiotherapist provides practitioners with the opportunity to contribute to the growth, change and development of their own professional landscape, and influence the progression and advancement of the profession.

5. Inbuilt Quality Assurance Mark: Chartered status for qualified physiotherapists offers a quality assurance mark for the public, patients/service users, employers and organisations.

So you can see why those practicing as physical therapists would want to join this network. And you can also see why someone who has spent time and money getting their University degree and further post graduate qualifications would take utter exception to the idea. Between BSc Sport Science and Health, MSc (pre reg) Physiotherapy and MSc Sports Physiotherapy to date I have spent 8 years in formal education investing ten’s of thousands in the process. I have continued with post graduate Diplomas, only recently commencing another. That’s the commitment to professional development you will get from a Chartered Physiotherapist.

This may have upset some people I know but it is intended to inform the public, not rattle cages. If you are attending for treatment or thinking of seeing somebody about an injury, if you think they are a physiotherapist ask them are they “Chartered”. If they are you can be assured they meet the high standards as outlined above. If not it may be worthwhile asking them more about their training.

For more information on any of the issues addressed throughout this article please contact Rob via email at, Twitter @mccabephysio, Facebook at McCabe Physiotherapy or visit

Rob McCabe MISCP

Chartered Physiotherapist

MSc (pre reg) Physiotherapy, BSc Sport Science and Health, MSc Sports Physiotherapy, PG Dip Orthopaedic Medicine

Orchard House, Moorefield Rd, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Click here for a link to previous blogs

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