Physiotherapy Officer

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Job description

Physiotherapy Officers assess, educate and treat Forces members for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. They establish treatment plans for a variety of orthopaedic, cardio-respiratory, neuro-musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy issues.

As a member of the Canadian Forces Health Services team, Physiotherapy Officers are responsible for assessing injury and developing treatment plans with the objective of returning Forces members to active duty. They also provide advice and guidance in:

  • Worksite assessments and industrial ergonomics
  • Injury prevention
  • Health promotion
  • Sports injury education
  • Pre-deployment education
  • Reconditioning programs

Physiotherapy Officer

TRUDEL: Combine the physiotherapy profession you’ve chosen with the satisfaction and pride of serving your country. Then mix in great salary and benefits, a pension plan from Day One, state-of-the-art equipment and a clinical environment that treats clients as individuals, not numbers and you’ll find that becoming a Physiotherapy Officer in the Canadian Forces is the right move to make.

When I was going through school, it was, I always knew that I wanted to get into orthopedics and I wanted to get into more of a specialization in physio which is manual therapy, so to do that, you need to work with a fairly active population and when you look at the military, that’s all they do.

I’ve found working with military personnel to be much more fulfilling than I had initially expected. Our military population is exceptional to work with since patients are generally young and active and motivated to achieve optimal results. I’ve got more time with my patients, less pressure to move them through the system and a lot fewer worries about administration and billing issues.

We have full leeway on anything we want to do with our clients. Because of that, we’re able to spend more time with them, give quality care which when you’re in school, that’s the ideal, is to be able to give that quality care to your client and to be able to make sure that you’re doing everything that you can as a healthcare provider to get them back to their functional state.

FRANCIS: As a commissioned officer in the Regular Force, you’ll use your leadership skills to manage a clinic like this and you’ll have the time and the resources to focus on high-quality care and long-term effectiveness.

Or if you’re looking for a challenging and exciting part-time career to augment your existing civilian physiotherapy job, you may be interested in joining the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves.

TRUDEL: The opportunities that are open to me, you don’t see in the civilian clinic. As an officer in the Canadian Forces, we’re leaders and we’re managers, as well as clinicians, so I was able to pretty much right out of school, I was put in charge of a clinic.

FRANCIS: So the main difference that I would say when I’m here is just the continual career development of working in one direction with my career, that I’m able to develop both as a clinician, as an administrator and as a leader in one employment where I’m not sure in a civilian clinic, that would always be the case, but in the military, it definitely is.

TRUDEL: By now, you’re probably wondering, How do I sign up? Many Physiotherapy Officers are already licensed physiotherapists working in civilian clinics when they join the Canadian Forces. This is what the Forces call Direct Entry.

TRUDEL: Your military training starts at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean, Quebec, with Basic Officer Training.

FRANCIS: Once you complete your basic training, you’ll be posted to a physiotherapy clinic located on a Canadian Forces base or wing where you’ll continue your professional development and training on the job.

TRUDEL: So our first few years out, we’re able to take a lot of our continuing education courses, our manual therapy, our acupuncture, some of our McKenzie back courses.

FRANCIS: It provides you with a great opportunity to enhance your clinical practice, to work with experienced therapists, equipment, to do your training. It gives you what you need when you first start in a career to really feel you have a base.

Early in your career, you’ll also spend six weeks on the Canadian Forces Physiotherapy Preceptorship course currently given at CFB Valcartier in Quebec. This course teaches you everything you need to know about being a physiotherapy officer in the Canadian Forces and prepares you for operational deployments with our soldiers overseas.

TRUDEL: I am a 100% satisfied with, with my decision and every day, the more, the more that I go through, the more confident I am that I made the right choice. When I initially joined, it was, I was thinking that I would just do my five years and then potentially get out and open up my own clinic and every day, the amount of time I want to stay in gets longer and longer and right now, I’m pretty much here for my entire career.


Working environment

Physiotherapy Officers work in the physiotherapy clinic of a Health Care Centre with other members of the military health care team. They work in a typical clinical environment using manual therapy and soft-tissue techniques. They also have access to physical agents such as cold, heat, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and electrotherapy modalities. Equipment includes conventional tools such as weights, pulleys, exercise apparatus, traction tables, dynamometers, assistive devices, orthopedic supplies, ortheses and splinting, in addition to more sophisticated devices such as isokinetic-isotonic systems, treadmills and other computerized aerobic-fitness equipment.

When deployed on operations, Physiotherapy Officers may be required to work in temporary facilities. However, they continue to work to maintain and enhance the operational readiness of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and support the work of other members of the Health Services team.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Physiotherapy Officer is $49,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Navy) or Captain, their salary is approximately $79,000 per year.

Physiotherapy Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. As they develop the necessary clinical and leadership skills, they take on increasing responsibility, initially as the second in charge and then as the team leader of the clinic. At the Captain level, the environment may be a small clinic on a more static base, increasing to an active base with a team made up of Physiotherapy Officers, civilian Physiotherapists, Physiotherapy assistants and administrative support. At the Major level, Physiotherapy Officers are responsible for overseeing the delivery of rehabilitation services within their region, as regional practice leaders. The National Practice Leader oversees the delivery of physiotherapy services throughout the CAF.

Related civilian occupations

  • Physiotherapist

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Basic military officer qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Professional training

Physiotherapy Officers complete formal preceptorship training for six weeks in Valcartier, Quebec. This training provides the core administrative knowledge and unique professional information concerning practicing physiotherapy in a military setting.

During the early part of their career, they will be sent to the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario, for the six-week Basic Medical Services Field Course in preparation for future operational deployments.

Specialty training

Physiotherapy Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses, participation in professional conferences, and on-the-job training, including:

  • Clinical skills maintenance
  • Manual therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Ergonomics
  • Biomechanics of the foot and Orthotics
  • Wound and burn management
  • Sport physiology

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Physiotherapy Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Leadership development
  • Leadership training

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Entry plans

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Required education

Those wishing to enter this occupation must be a licensed Physiotherapist in Canada.

Direct entry

If you already have a Physiotherapy degree from an accredited program in Canada and hold a current licence to practise Physiotherapy in a province or territory in Canada, the CAF may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Paid education

If you have been accepted to an accredited Master's degree program in Physiotherapy at a recognized Canadian university, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete the Master's program. They receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must have proof that you have been accepted without condition to a Master’s degree program in Physiotherapy at a Canadian university.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Navy, Army, Air Force

Serve with the Reserve Force

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for CAF operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the CAF and the local community.

As a health care professional in the Health Service Reserves, you must have an unrestricted licence to practise in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve as a member of the 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa. Reserve Force members in this unit reside across Canada and serve part time a minimum of 14 days per year in a military clinic or on military training when required.  They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Physiotherapy Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as members of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. They are employed to assess, educate and treat CAF members for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, with the objective of returning them to active duty. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a location within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. Applicants with a Physiotherapy degree from an accredited Physiotherapy program in Canada with a current license to practice Physiotherapy in a province or territory in Canada and who are eligible for membership in the Canadian Physiotherapy Association may be placed directly into the required military training program following basic officer training.

Working environment

Reserve Force Physiotherapy Officers may serve part-time at a Health Services Clinic and may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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