Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy (PT) is the most commonly practised allied health discipline globally. International PT workforce reforms are underway to deal with increasing patient numbers, shrinking medical and nursing workforces and lengthy waiting lists. It is timely to consider international differences in PT, with the aims of identifying opportunities for shared learning and forming stronger international alliances to support consistent and evidence-based workforce reforms. This paper synthesizes freely available information on PT training and service delivery across the UK, Australia and United States (California). The paper considers differences in roles, workplaces, training, legislation and registration, continuing professional development, and accountability.
There are similarities between UK, Australia and United States (California) in many areas of PT roles, training, registration, legislation and professional practice. However, none has a standard national mechanism by which to demonstrate PT accountability, patient safety or quality care. Moreover, there are different approaches to workforce reforms. There is considerable duplication in physiotherapy governance.
There are opportunities for targeted international collaborations regarding workforce reforms such as extending scope of practice, and determining and implementing internationally agreed ways of demonstrating PT accountability. The findings of this review have significant policy implications, and identify areas for collaborative research.