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Supervising Physiotherapy Residents: An Important and Rewarding Role

Oct 19, 2018

By: Peter Ruttan, PT, Investigator – Professional Conduct

It’s that time of year again when many physiotherapy students are graduating and becoming PT Residents. As a result, many experienced physiotherapists are being asked to be Practice Supervisors, tasked with ensuring each PT Resident’s career starts on the right foot. We were all PT Residents at some point and hopefully relied heavily on our Supervisor’s support. So, if you’re approached to be a Practice Supervisor, it can be a rewarding opportunity that I hope you’ll consider. 

Being a Practice Supervisor is so much more than just an agreement that you sign— which is now done electronically through your portal account.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that the practical aspects of being a PT are successfully navigated while mitigating the adoption of poor practices.

The process allows PT Residents who have passed the written component of the exam to safely enter the profession and continue to prepare for the practical component through firsthand experience. In the spirit of self-regulation, it also allows physiotherapists at varying stages of their careers to hold each other accountable. 

So, what are the requirements to become a Practice Supervisor? The Practice Supervisor:

  • Must hold an Independent Practice Certificate in Ontario for at least three years
  • Can’t be related or closely associated with the PT Resident
  • Can’t be supervising more than three residents at one time
  • The College will also consider the supervisor’s history including investigations, remedial activities and practice concerns

Once you’ve signed up to be a Practice Supervisor, your responsibilities include:

  • Agreeing to the terms of supervision by completing the Practice Supervision Agreement and submitting it to the College
  • Supervising the PT Resident’s practice
  • Communicating with the College as needed
  • Complying with legislation, regulation, by-laws and standards

Although regular reports are no longer a requirement for practice supervision, it’s important to keep records of your time with your PT Resident, in the event that questions or concerns arise. Remember to document your areas of focus whether it be billing practices, boundaries, or inter-professional collaboration.

It’s also imperative that you only supervise care that you yourself have the knowledge, skills, and judgement to give. This applies to all areas of practice including rostered activities—so if you’re not rostered to perform acupuncture, your PT Resident can’t do it either.

If you’re asked to be a Practice Supervisor, consider it an honour and a responsibility not to be taken lightly—you are after all shaping the bright physiotherapy minds of tomorrow.

If you have any questions about supervision, I would encourage you to get in touch with the College Practice Advice team—they are always available to answer your questions by phone at 1-800-583-5885 ext. 241 or 647-484-800 or email at

Learn More About Supervision

Read the Supervision Standard

Review the Supervision FAQs

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  1. Anonymous | Nov 02, 2018
    The comments below are all great; they are well-written, carefully considered, and thoughtfully presented. I am not convinced that venting on this blog will have any impact. However, if individuals are concerned, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care oversees Ontario's Health Regulatory Colleges and perhaps they will be able to exert some influence.

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