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 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 $51,000 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 $74,000 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
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.
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.
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
- Biomechanics of the foot and Orthotics
- Wound and burn management
- Sport physiology
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
Those wishing to enter this occupation must be a licensed Physiotherapist in Canada.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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