My guide to Studying and Working abroad Part 3 (Working)

My last two blogs focused on things to consider when moving abroad for masters. You can find it HERE and HERE. This blog post will feature things to consider when moving abroad to start practicing as a licensed physiotherapist. When I say abroad, I am referring to the countries I have worked in – The US and Canada. Ok, here we go-

  • One needs to be a licensed physiotherapist to be able to work in both USA and Canada. The US has a 250 question MCQ based written test with a passing of 75% called the NPTE. Canada has two tests- the written and the practical. The written component has 200 MCQ questions and the practical exam has 16 practical stations which covers cases of all aspects of entry level physiotherapy. It’s called the PCE.
  • If you plan to move to North America, prepare to start the process early as there are a lot of steps before you will be permitted to sit for the examination. This can easily  take up a few months.
  • To sum these steps in a nutshell, US and Canada would like to assess our foreign degrees and  make sure its equivalent to their standard entry level programs (DPT in the US and Masters in physiotherapy in Canada). If they find it to be at par with their respective standard, then one is allowed to sit for the test. If not, recommendations for courses are given that must be done by the foreign trained physiotherapist to be able to sit for the exam. All of this can take some time hence  start early.
  • For the US please refer to the FCCPT and FSBPT websites (in that order) for more information which is unfortunately out of scope of this blog post. You can find that information HERE and HERE. For Canada, please go to the website Canadian alliance of physiotherapy regulators for more information. It can be found HERE.
  • Make sure you have enough copies of your mark sheets and graduation certificates (multiple copies, sealed and stamped by your college or university). You will need more than one.
  • In my opinion,  to pass these tests, foreign trained physiotherapist must devote at least 2-3 months of full time study. Students graduating from american and canadian programs are trained to pass these board exams. I cannot speak for other countries but in India a lot of our tests are essay format written tests. It does not prepare us for the MCQ based examination that we need to pass to practice here.
  • Most of the exam questions require analytical thinking and problem solving to deduce the right answer. There are some questions that test factual knowledge and  our memory as well but predominately a lot of questions focus on different  scenarios and our ability to chose the best response with the information presented. Sometimes the answers might be easy to pick and sometimes more than one answer might seem correct.
  • Passing the american NPTE is quite straightforward, score 75% or more to pass. The Canadian exam is more complex, the passing score is not fixed and is set by the board of examiners and one must score more than the fixed score to pass. The candidates do not know the passing score that is fixed. You can read more about it at the CARP website HERE.
  • After one successfully passes the board exams, there are many different work settings to chose from. One could chose to work in outpatient offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long term care facilities, schools as pediatric physios or provide home physio.
  • Average salary for a new graduate in outpatient care varies state to state (USA), province to province (Canada) but to give you a ball park estimate, can start around mid $30’s/hour. Travelling home care Physios or pediatric physios  have slightly higher rates.

I  have a few more points coming in the final part 4 of this blog post. Stay tuned and always

Pursue excellence

Abhijit Minhas

(BPT, MS, CMP, FMT)