Physiotherapy Officers assess, educate and treat Canadian 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 Canadian 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 Forces member and support the work of other members of the Health Services team.
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 Canadian Forces.
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 14 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Forces, 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.
Second language training is available following basic officer training; depending on your ability in your second language, it may take from two to nine months.
Physiotherapy Officers complete a 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 Physiotherapy program in Canada, have a current license to practice Physiotherapy in a province or territory in Canada, and are eligible for membership in the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the Canadian Forces 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.