In this new blog series, Lara shares her experience as an oversea-trained physiotherapist working in the UK. From guidance on the HCPC registration process to discussion around UK and international physio news, she hopes to provide help to foreign physios looking to work in the UK - and to connect with those of you who already are!
t has been nearly three years since I went down the route of registering with the HCPC in order to practice as a physiotherapist in the UK. Up until then, I had been running into all sort of misleading information and more 'cons' than 'pros'. Back in 2014 I wasn’t able to find straightforward answers, or people who could guide me through the process; which made me overcautious, and consequently delayed my registration.
Good news for you, fellow foreigner: I made it through, and it is not impossible! So let's get to work and go through the facts so you can speed up the process...
What's the HCPC?
The HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) is the regulatory organisation for some of the health professions in the United Kingdom. Their mission is to protect the public by ensuring that practitioners in the UK are fully qualified for their tittle and compliant with professional standards. All physiotherapists, national and international, have to be HCPC-registered if they want to work as such.
As an international, the process can be long as you will have to wait a minimum of 3 months to get an answer. If the HCPC committee feels you need to provide some more paperwork or you are not ready to be registered, then this can potentially double up the time. It is also expensive: £495 to submit your case, which will be then evaluated individually (this does NOT include your translation fees). It is therefore very important to try to get it right the first time to minimize costs and waiting time.
NB: If you are a European national, from a country part of the EEA (Economical European Area), watch this space as you can do the process in a different and cheaper way (more in the next episode…)
How do I go about registering?
1. Download the international application form from the HCPC website and read it twice to get an idea first, then primarily focus on the list displayed on the first page. These are all the documents that you have to send. In order to do this you have to be very thorough with each piece of paperwork you provide. It is so important that you read, proof-read and read again before you send anything (can't say it enough!).
The key documents to which you will have to dedicate your soul and patience, are your course information form and the sections of employment and gap of employment in the international application form. If you get these ones right, mini-points for a more speedy application process!
2. The course application form is where you should include all the information about your degree/title/BSc. This will have to include year by year all the subjects that you have received training on and placements you have undertook. Your university will provide you with this information and in some cases, if they are nice and efficient, they will even fill up the form for you. It doesn't matter how you fill it up as long as every single detail is in your original language and translated into English, and of course, signed and stamped by the relevant person from your university.
3. Employment and/or gap of employment. These will be two different sections in your application form. I wanted to be really insistent on these sections as I have come across people that fail their registration because they don't give enough information in these. Regardless of whether you have worked or not as a physiotherapist, make sure you provide good insight on how you regularly update your knowledge (reading, volunteering, training...) and what skills or abilities you have learned through experience. Contrast/match this information to the professional standards that the HCPC is looking for (you can download these from the HCPC website here).
Finally, gather all other documents on the tick list and make sure you have done your official translations, and that everything is as requested in the application form. Before you seal your envelope, check you have included all that was needed and TICK ALL THE BOXES ;)
If you have any queries regarding the HCPC registration process or working in the UK as a foreign-trained physio, don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a line on messenger via the button below.
About the author
Lara is a Spanish physiotherapist who has been working in the UK for the past 3 years. She's been able to learn from a wide range of physio specialties having worked as a rotational physiotherapist over here; however it hasn't always been easy finding her way and adjusting to the UK system. Since going through the process, she's helped other foreign-trained physios to do so; firstly through her own blog, and now as a QP blogger!