What’s in a Name? Use of Physical Therapist Title

What title do you use when signing correspondence, advertising your business, or on marketing materials? The Use of Title Standard requires that physical therapists identify themselves using the protected title, as outlined by the Health Professions Act, Physical Therapists Regulation. The protected titles are ‘physical therapist, physiotherapist’ or ‘registered physical therapist, registered physiotherapist’.

The intent of the Use of Title Standard is to ensure that title is used in an accurate, consistent and transparent way for the public. If instead physical therapists use a different title, such as pelvic floor physical therapist or vestibular physical therapist, the public may understand that a specific credential or specialization has been earned. The challenge is there is no regulatory authorization to use such titles, and as a result no way to reassure the public of the actual credentials of that physical therapist.

Did the vestibular physical therapist watch a webinar on vestibular rehabilitation, or have they taken comprehensive training that included assessment of their knowledge and performance? There is no way for the public to know the difference, and likely it would be understood as the physical therapist being a specialist in that area.

The only scenario where the College provides a physical therapist with regulatory authorization to use a title other than physical therapist, is where the clinical specialty designation has been granted by the Canadian Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) or the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Following the requirements of the Use of Title Standard improves transparency by communicating additional educational achievements in a clear and complete manner so as to be understood by the public, without the use of abbreviations. For example: “additional education in vestibular rehabilitation” or naming the education program or membership. It may seem like a small detail, however, it’s an important difference – does the physical therapist have regulatory authorization to use the title Physical Therapist, Clinical Specialist (Neurology) or instead has the physical therapist engaged in additional education on the topic? One has a clinical specialty designation, and the other does not, and the difference ought to be made clear to the public.