Physical therapist postprofessional education in the United States and Australia

Karen Westervelt, Linda H Crane, Jeremy Sibold, Wayne A Hing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
342 Downloads (Pure)


Background: In line with policy recommendations from the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, Australia (AUS), and the United States (USA) actively promote postprofessional physical therapist education. Although postprofessional education pathways vary, the goal of educating specialists within the profession is shared.

Objectives: In order to advance education, and ultimately the profession, it is necessary to understand what is offered for postprofessional programs. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate and compare physical therapist postprofessional education in two regions of the world.

Methods: Data were collected from relevant professional organizations, electronic media, and academic programs. Descriptive statistics were generated to compare postprofessional programs in AUS and USA.

Major Findings: Variation was demonstrated in postprofessional education between both countries. Notably, the number of programs was observed to be growing in the USA, but declining in AUS, where six programs closed during data collection. AUS offered 41 postprofessional programs, while the USA offered 242 residency, and 49 fellowship, programs. USA and AUS had the most programs in musculoskeletal/sports, 42.6% and 24.4%, respectively. Conversely, geriatrics comprised only 7.4% of USA residence programs and 0% of AUS clinical academic programs.

Conclusion: This research compared postprofessional education in AUS and USA and demonstrated universal issues related to accessibility and programming. The declining number of programs in AUS is of great concern and warrants evaluation of postprofessional education globally. Educators need to ensure that postprofessional education is accessible, innovative, meets the population needs. This research demonstrates opportunities for international collaboration within the physical therapy profession to advance education and ultimately the profession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Therapy Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical therapist postprofessional education in the United States and Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this