Where are you from and where did you study your physio degree?
I am from Mumbai, India. I studied my Bachelor Degree at Maharashtra University of Health Sciences
I also studied a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy in Australia.
Do you think doing a Masters in Australia helped the process?
Yes and no. To start the whole procedure you need to have a job lined up in Australia, so being in Australia and meeting potential employers was helpful. The Masters itself wasn’t necessarily helpful.
It’s worth noting my Masters was a specialist course. This is important as completing a 2 year Masters of Physiotherapy Degree that includes cardiorespiratory and neurological content means you don’t have to sit the licence exam with the Australian Physiotherapy Council (ACP). Because my Masters was to become a Sports Physiotherapist I now have to sit the written and practical exams with ACP to become fully licenced in Australia.
The whole process looks a bit confusing. What were the steps you took to become registered to work as a physio in Australia?
Firstly, an application to AHPRA for “limited registration for postgraduate training as a physiotherapist”.
Then, on completing the Masters degree another application to AHPRA for “limited registration for supervised practice as a physiotherapist”. This means I can now work in Australia in a private practice with supervision.
Finally, I’m now going through the assessment process with APC to gain full registration for unsupervised practice in Australia. This means I can work independently in any field unsupervised.
Which pathway did you apply through the APC with? The “Equivalence of Qualification – Existing Program” or the “Equivalence of Qualification – New Program” or the “Standard Assessment Pathway” or the “FLYR Pathway”
The Standard Assessment Pathway.
How long did it take you?
- AHPRA: limited registration for post-graduate study. A few weeks.
- AHPRA: Limited registration for supervised practice. 3 months.
- APC: Ongoing. Usually takes 12-18 months. I’m planning to sit the written exam in September 2023.
How much did it cost?
- Eligibility Assessment and Cultural Safety Training Interim Certificate $1470
- Written exam $1400
- Practical exam $3700
Note from Erin: these prices are now different, please refer to the ACP website
AHPRA: Can’t remember exact costs of everything, but I needed:
- IELTS test
- National Police Clearance
- Certified copies of documents (cheaper in India than in Australia)
- Application fee (currently $134)
- One thing I saved on: Professional indemnity insurance is free if you’re under supervised practice!
Did you have to sit the written or practical examinations?
Not for limited registration and supervised practice.
I am now choosing to sit the APC written and practical exams for full general registration so I can work unsupervised.
It is possible to continue to work in Australia with limited registration and not sit the exams, but this means you must continue to work for the person who is sponsoring your visa and nominated as your supervisor. If you want to quit and change jobs you have to go through the process again (which might take 3.5 months!)
What unexpected surprises did you come across?
My experience was complicated by the COVID pandemic.
I had a number of supervisors back out.
Completing the paperwork for my supervised practice plan: this has to be on point. There’s a high chance AHPRA will reject the application if it’s not correct (they’ll usually ask for amendments first, but lots of rejections means lots of delays in getting registered).
What roadblocks did you run into?
Incomplete documents mean AHPRA will send queries for more information.
Did you get a visa first? Or your physio registration? Did you arrive in Australia before you had registration?
For me I arranged my student visa first and was in Australia before I started getting registered, but this will depend on the type of visa you come to Australia with.
For example if using a work visa you will need a letter proving your job offer and employer details first to be able to apply for it (you won’t need registration with AHPRA but will need to show evidence you’ve started applying).
If coming on a partner visa, then you might be in Australia first before meeting potential employers and applying.
To apply for AHPRA registration you need a job and a supervisor first, but ACP doesn’t require this.
What tips would you suggest for people about to start this process?
- It would be fine to just do supervised practice/limited registration if you’re only staying for one year and have someone willing to supervise and sponsor your visa. But this is a personal choice.
- I would say if you’re intending to stay longer (more than a few years) then go through the full registration process with APC so you’re not dependent on your supervisor – but this is also a personal choice, I know someone who has been on limited registration for many years. However, if you then want to change jobs you would need to start the whole process again (another 3.5 months!) because you must work under your nominated supervisor.
- If you choose limited registration you will probably be limited to private practice as not every business or setting will sponsor you. For example I can’t work for a sports club as it’s unlikely they will go through the trouble of sponsoring me.
- Having full General Registration is a pathway to Permanent Residency.
It’s a pretty tough gig – was it worth it for the experiences you’ve had in Australia?
For me yes.
Even though it felt like everything was against me, I’ve done a lot of stuff now!
Finishing comments/anything else to add?
- Be patient! If you’re not patient you will learn to be. I wasn’t a patient person, but nothing bothers me now – I have learnt patience thanks to AHPRA!
- In hindsight I would have started the APC examination process earlier to save time. I arrived in Australia to study my Masters degree and wanted to focus on that, but could have been studying for the written exam. Now I’ve finished Uni and I’m still studying for another year to get this procedure done.
- Keep your Bachelor Degree notes to study for APC exams.
- A friend gave me the advice that you just need to pass the APC exams, not ace them. This is true but highly risky, as if you fail it is expensive to pay to resit!
- Everyone is assessed the same without exemption, so whether you have just graduated or have years of clinical experience it doesn’t matter.
Thanks so much for your wise words and time Nidhi!
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