A client remarked to me last week that I had “a lot of initials behind my name” and she was wondering what they all stood for. What a great questions! I imagine she is not the only client who wonders what all these letters mean so this post is about demystifying things a bit.
Seeing initials after a professional’s name can cause a little intimidation for some, “awe” or respect for others and plain old confusion for the rest! Here are some designations your physiotherapist might have after his or her name and what difference it might mean to you, the patient.
Typically, the first (and essential) set of letters are those indicating the type of University degree that the therapist has obtained that allows them to practice physiotherapy. Usually, if the therapist graduated before 2007, it is a Bachelors degree. After that, most universities progressed to make the degree a Masters degree, meaning that the student had to have obtained a bachelor’s degree prior to entering the Master’s program.
The Masters degree is completed in a shorter period of time but the graduate leaves university having studied for a longer time OVERALL. What can be confusing still is that different universities sometimes have different names for the same “type” of degree- one school may label their Masters degree MPT and another labels is a MScPT translating to a Master in Science in Physical Therapy. Maggie Phillips-Scarlett and Patrick McKinnon have entry level Masters degrees.
Each registered physiotherapist will be a graduate of one of these programs. Those with “entry-level” Masters degrees will also have a Bachelors degree. At our clinic, some of our therapists have previous degrees in Science BSc (Karen Ogilvie), in Kinesiology BKin (Patrick) and even a Masters in Kinesiology MKin (Maggie).
To add to the different “Masters” titles, a therapist who qualified as a Bachelor in Physical Therapy can then go on and complete a Masters which would be considered an “Advanced” degree and is done with a focus on clinical studies or research, typically, and is above and beyond the requirements of practice as a physiotherapist. There is only one school in Canada offering this option (University of Western Ontario) but physios may choose to study abroad to receive this advanced schooling, in Australia, for example, where these programs are more abundant.
Acupuncture & IMS Designations:
For clients looking for various needling therapies, things get yet a little more complex. At our clinic, we offer two different styles of treatment…acupuncture and IMS (intramuscular stimulation). The Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute offers acupuncture training & certification to medical practitioners (such as doctors, dentists, chiropractors, registered nurses and naturopaths to name some). The completion of their required courses and exams gives the therapist the letters CAFCI. Both Karen & Emily are trained through the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada and Maggie & Shelley are in the midst of completing the courses to be certified.
Physiotherapists who wish to specialize in IMS or dry needling (which is a technique focused on needling muscles instead of following meridian channels) can study with Dr. Chan Gunn (founder of iSTOP clinic in Vancouver) and receive the designation CGIMS (Sue and Karen have these credentials). Students who choose this route must by physiotherapists or physicians and have completed a certain level of post-graduate training prior to be admitted to the course.
A third route to obtain qualifications to use acupuncture needles in treatment is by getting a degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine which involves considerable extra schooling but allows a therapist to be both a physiotherapist and a Registered Acupuncturist (RAc).
Manual Therapy Credentials:
Lastly, with regards to Canadian physiotherapists who want advancement in the field of manual therapy (hands on treatment), there is a governing body that regulates this special group of physiotherapists and grants them certain designations after they complete post-graduate education in their system. The highest designation is that of Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) and represents years of study and a high level of skill and results in these initials FCAMPT after their name. Previously, if an intermediate exam has been completed, a temporary designation of Registrant existed but that has since been removed as a “credential” as of 2011.
I hope this helps clear up a few things. I am happy to answer any questions that may arise. Feel free to visit the section about our therapists by clicking here.
(BScPT RCAMPT CGIMS)
Suzanne Geba says
Hello from PABC (Physiotherapy Association of BC).
Just came across your informative article. Great work on your social media activity. We’ll be following you!
Marj Belot B.Sc.PT, FCAMPT, CAFCI, M.Sc. Biomed Phys Kin says
Great explanation Sue. I only wish this was on the PABC, CPA and BC College of Physiotherapy websites.
The other common letters are MCPA which means people are a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Marj
MCPA is not a designation, and as much as we’d like to advertise that physios are members of their professional association, the college does not recognize this signifier.