Bridging Program Grads Show 81% Pass Rate on Physiotherapy Competency Exam

Four international students chat ourside a campus building

They’re well trained. Their skills are desperately needed. But, for many internationally educated physical therapists (IEPTs) who are new to Canada, they’re delivering pizzas instead.

One of the biggest barriers to practicing in Canada for IEPTs is successfully completing the Physical Therapy Competency Exam (PCE), which all physical therapists in Ontario must pass in order to be licensed to practice.

Part one is a four-hour multiple choice exam. If that is passed, candidates move on to a clinical exam.

Many IEPTs have never sat a multiple choice exam before, because it wasn’t part of their previous learning. Language can also be a barrier, as well as a lack of knowledge about the Canadian healthcare system.

The national pass rate for IEPTs is 48% for the written component, and 57% for the clinical component. These are in stark contrast to the national pass rate for Canadian-trained physical therapists: 94% pass the written component, and 91% pass the clinical component.

The Ontario Internationally Educated Physical Therapy Bridging (OIEPB) program, hosted by the University of Toronto’s Department of Physical Therapy, helps IEPTs prepare for the PCE, and gain experience working in the Canadian healthcare system.

The national pass rate for Bridging program graduates is 80% for the written component and 82% for the clinical component.

Bridging program graduates who pass the PCE experience a 100% employment rate.

“Our program has had remarkable results” says Sharon Switzer-McIntyre, Program Director. “Our department recognizes the importance of helping IEPTs prepare for these exams and adjust to practicing in a Canadian context. The need for physical therapists in our healthcare system is great, and the Bridging program is ensuring that IEPTs have the opportunity to contribute to the health of Canadians.”