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1st European Congress of Physiotherapy Education

Nov 04 - Nov 06
Estoril, Portugal

Post congress report

The European Region of WCPT arranged a Post Congress Seminar on physiotherapy education for delegates from the Member Organisations in Estoril, Portugal on 6th November 2004.

The aim of the seminar was to analyse the conclusions of the European Congress on Physiotherapy Education and discuss the implications for further work to be developed by the Working Groups of the European Region of WCPT. A total of 36 delegates from 21 Member Organisations were present.

The Chairman of the European Region of WCPT welcomed the delegates to the meeting and presented the agenda. The seminar was divided into three main points:

Presentation of the main conclusions of the Congress.
Discussion of the conclusions in discussion groups.
Presentation of the reports from the discussion groups.

1. Presentation of the main conclusions of the Congress

Nina Holten presented the following summary conclusions of the European Congress on physiotherapy education. These conclusions were drafted by Marie Donaghy, as Chair of the Scientific Board of the Congress and Nina Holten, as member of the ER - WCPT Working Group on education matters:


High quality platform papers and posters.
Exciting things happening in education and innovation in E - learning courses, however very little E - learning presentations were offered in Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for post qualification.
Links between education/clinical education in practise are evident; it is encouraging to see that we do not need to establish bridges/links there.
Organisation & friendliness of students very good.
Keynotes, plenaries, symposium topics were relevant and the quality was good.


The Congress was highly relevant. There is a need to focus on structures that facilitate:

Lifelong Learning opportunities.
Joint degrees.
Allow entry into education system at all points in adult life.
Need for cohesion and innovation to allow for diversity.
Need for trust in each other's systems.

Aim of the Bologna Process is not to make all programmes alike, but to use common structures that facilitate cohesion and allow for diversity. Flexible and transparent systems using Education Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and Diploma Supplement.


One model may be too rigid. Model for Questionnaire is OK.
Continue to talk about what is required for delivery of health, prevention, promotion and changing roles and responsibilities across Europe.
Need for specific competencies to be identified and linked to specialist areas - "what is unique to physiotherapy in each speciality - knowledge, practice, cognition".
Identify why specialisation in certain areas are needed - complex interactions.


Positive response to this felt to be a useful tool but needs to:

Be highlighted to Quality Assurance Agencies (QAA) in each country.
Be taken into Higher Educations Institutions (HEI´s) to inform curriculum.
Be accepted by EU Commission.
Be seen to be one tool (among others) to facilitate a common platform of learning.


Need to have level and programme descriptions and qualification frameworks that articulate High School and Higher Education University programmes with activities of Life Long Learning (LLL) and Continued Professional Development (CDP). Many countries have Quality Assurance systems but only a small percentage of Higher Education Institutions are engaged in all the recommended activities (ENQA -European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) and they are not so extensive to capture all LLL.
Qualification frameworks can be different to meet in-country needs but should be able to be articulated against the European Physiotherapy Benchmark Statement (EPBS).


Obvious change and movement in Evidence based practice (EBP) Catherine Shepard & Kari Bø: key messages:

Educate students / physiotherapists to ask good research questions.
Need to identify best methods for physiotherapy research.
Encourage diversity of methodologies.
Use blended approach quantitative/qualitative.
Be aware of limitations of meta-analysis.

Not stay limited to medical or biomedical models only, but rather use the bio- psychosocial model, and other relevant models.


In future, plan joint conferences with other education networks, rather than invite to pre or post-conferences - in order to enhance mutual respect.

Regarding the number of countries involved (35), and bearing in mind that the majority does not have English as the first language, we must be aware of the language and terminology problems, and show respect for the effort made to share views and cultural values.

An evaluation form should be distributed to all participants attending the Congress.

Members of the Scientific Committee

  • John Xerri de Caro, Chair (Malta)

  • Beate Salchinger (Austria)

  • Eleni Kapreli (Greece)

  • Andrea Turolla (Italy)

  • Geert Verheyden (Belgium) – On behalf of Axxon – Member Organisation hosting the congress.                               

  • Bjorg Gudjonsdottir (Iceland) – On behalf of ENPHE – Collaborating with the Congress organiser  

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