As promised I attended the information session about National registration of OTs at Westmead Hospital. It was great to be in the company of so many other OTs! For other rehabhub readers I will post on more general rehab/injury management topics next week.
The information session was given by Dr Mary Russell who is Chair of the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, part of the AHPRA. She gave some very clear information about what to expect in the process of registration and I felt it was time well spent, going to the information session. Below is my summary of what was said. Keep in mind that it is a brief overview only and I am reporting what I understood from the session. I do not speak for the Board. I would urge anyone reading this blog to go to the Boards website to read the information there. If possible I would also encourage you to attend an information session for yourself.
Mary started by making a clear distinction between the Occupational Therapy Board (the registration body) and the professional association (Occupational Therapy Australia). It is an important distinction. Mary used a great analogy with driving a car. You have to get your license though a government body. In NSW this is the Roads and Traffic Authority. You are represented by a motoring association. In NSW this would be the NRMA. The NRMA cannot issue a license and you do not have to be a member of the NRMA to have a license. In the same way, you will need to be registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia to practice OT and this has no realtionship to your membership of Occupational Therapy Australia.
The board is responsible for ensuring that registered Occupational Therapists are suitably qualified and competent. They are responsible for codes and guidelines and, along with the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia, oversee training programmes for Occupational Therapists.
On 1 July 2012 anyone practising Occupational Therapy in Australia will legally have to be registered with the Occupational Therapy Board. The application forms are not ready but are imminent. Applications will need to be made on paper. Online applications will not be possible this year. Practicing OTs are asked to apply for registration by 30/3/2012 to ensure they are registered by 1/7/12. The additional time allows for the board to ask for and receive any additional information that may be required.
There will be a one off application fee and an annual fee. Mary was not able to estimate what these fees would be, but stated that the registration fee will be due by 1 December each year so the initial annual fee will be prorata for 5 months only.
There will be catagories of registration but most OTs will be registered in a general catagory.
To prepare for registration we were advised to read the standards, codes and guidlines on the boards website (here).
As part of registration OTs will be asked to make a statement regarding compliance with the standards so it is important that you understand what those standards are before you make that statement.
To prepare for registration you can get your CV ready and made sure you have certified copies of your qualifications. If you do not have a copy of your original degree then you can contact the institution or its successor where you obtained your degree or you may be able to submit academic transcripts. There are specific rules for OTs trained overseas depending on whether you have passed a competency exam in Australia or not.
Also different rules apply if you are currently registered in another state.
You will also need proof of identity and proof of change of name if that applies.
Mary made the point that the board actually has no way of contacting every OT who may be impacted by this change so she requested that everyone make sure all their OT friends are aware of the requirement for registration.
The requirement for registration will apply to the following:
Anyone who has the title “Occupational Therapist”;
People who do not work under the title “Occupational Therapist” but who have their job only because they are an OT;
Any Occupational Therapy manager;
Any other person practicing Occupational Therapy.
If your job is more generic and you could argue that even though your OT qualification assists you in the job, it is not essential, then it is your decision whether to apply for registration or not, however, you must keep in mind that applying for registration after being unregistered for some time will may be more difficult than maintaining your membership due to the requirement for recency of practice.
The definition of practice is broad and includes unpaid work.
As registered practitioners we will have a mandatory responsibility to notify the Board of certain breaches by other OTs for example sexual or other misconduct, impairment or other significant departure from accepted standards. Members of the public can also made notifications.
Managers and supervisors should make themselves aware of the standards, and particularly the professional indemnity infomation as staff will be requesting this information. They should check their staff’s registration status annually and domcument staff CPD points. They will also need to check the registration status of new job applicants. This is not detailed in the law but is common sense.
All this information is available on the board’s website and anyone can elect to receive email updates which will include the release of the registration applciation form.
The stanards for registration include:
As mentioned in the previous post 30 hours are required and these are taken from three catagories: “Formal Learning”, “Informal Learning”, and “Engagement with the Profession”. Please note that RehabHub stated previously that we have until 1 December 2012 to get the full 30 hours but Mary stated that we actually have until 1 December 2013, so 17 months to get the full 30 hours. This should not be too hard. Mary emphasised that any training courses must be directly applicable to maintaining and improving you competence in your area of OT practice so a fire lecture, for example cannot be counted as CPD. She also stated that the time used reflecting on a course to apply it to your practice can be counted as CPD points.
Only relevant criminal matters will effect registration but your are encouraged to declare any matter in you are unsure of its relevance to be sure that you have been upfront about any ciminal history.
3. English language requirements
There are specific means of measuring this which are in the guidelines.
4. Professional indemnity
Every OT must be insured either with their own policy or by their employer. Each OT is responsible for ensuring that they have professional indemnity.
5. Recency of practice.
The standard is the equivalent of 6 months full time practice within the last 5 years and there are provisions to allow OTs who do not meet this standard to re-enter the profession.
There are special provisions for people who may not meet the standards but who have been practicing as an OT to gain limited registration and eventually full registration.
In summary, we need to read through the standards, codes and guidelines and apply for membership by 30 March. If unregistered on 1 July, 2012, you cannot legally practice as an OT in Australia.