Beating the odds: How the ACPSEM CPD pathway can help physios who want to work in sport

Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sport and Exercise Medicine blog series @PhysiosinSport

By Nikki McLaughlin @Nikkimacphysio

Having just read @sianknott‘s recent blog on behalf of @sport_wales, I am inspired to give a brief synopsis of how to use current and existing infrastructures of governing and professional bodies to progress through your career as a sport physio – being an Olympic year, what better time to share the info.

Rabbit in headlights

Where do I go from here???

Now when you first start out it’s a bit like a rabbit in the head lights – you don’t know where to go or what to do…so my main aim for this blog is to give some advice and personal experience on where you can go as a newly graduated physio who wants to work in sport, or for those looking for more exposure in multi sport events.

I wouldn’t say I am the most experienced sports physiotherapist out there but if I didn’t have the help and support from some key figures in the sports physio world (you know who you are), I would never have worked with some of the teams I have, or travelled to the farthest corners of the world. Therefore, I am merely just trying to return the favour by  “Paying it forward”.

CPD Pathway and Education-Going for gold.

Firstly, I have found and continually use the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sport and Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM) as a great resource for  professional development and networking. The organisation has a clear and structured CPD and educational pathway. The process is straight forward and the “pathway provides a road map to help sports physiotherapists to plan, implement and reflect upon their learning”.

The ACPSEM accreditation levels are internationally recognised by the International Federation of Sports Physiotherapists, theBritish Olympic Association and Sports National Governing Bodies. Evermore, employers are using the CPD levels as essential criteria on their job descriptions to ensure that they can be confident in the physiotherapists sporting experience. With more competition in the marketplace from other sports practitioners, the pathway can add value to your professional credibility.

Secondly, the organisation clearly has some influence within the market place. It’s members regularly liaise with Health Professions Council and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to inform them of any changes and/or updates of working practices of physiotherapists working in sport medicine.

To volunteer or not????

As you enter into the sporting world it is very easy to get caught up in the volunteering process.  Now I for one feel strongly about this and speak from experience. All too often you hear of physios covering or volunteering for sports to gain experience but quite often end up working alone or exposed, and I’m not against volunteering but what I will say and question is what are you getting from it?

Perhaps an example would help better here? – If you a covering a social sporting side to gain experience and you are the sole practitioner and responsible for trauma cover, question are you really going to benefit from it or are you just exposing yourself to a potentially vulnerable situation?

working alone pitchside

Exposure pitch side the need for team support is essential

If however, you are involved within a team there is no reason why you cannot volunteer and access the previously mentioned ACPSEM pathway documentation and mentoring system. This will support you to clearly define objectives and learning outcomes from within your role making the experience more worthwhile.

If you really seek a structured experience, with exposure within multi sport events then BUCS as an organisation is a  great place to start.  Throughout my career I have been heavily involved and still am. The cohort of physio and medics are so varied in their professional and sporting backgrounds that the information or learning you can gain is invaluable regardless of experience. Is it costly? simple answer no, all you have to do is give your time and be willing to work the hours and in environments your not used to.

BUCS volunteer

BUCS events, particularly the larger ones, provide an excellent opportunity for doctors and physiotherapists looking to enhance their sporting experience. BUCS currently operate two multi-sport events where are large number of doctors and physiotherapists come together to work and share knowledge and skills.  Involvement in the domestic programme can additionally lead to a variety of international opportunities. I can say that these have been some of the best working trips I have been on and made some real life-long friends.

For domestic events, BUCS provides expenses and daily rates for ACPSEM qualified physiotherapists and doctors. Students and newly qualified individuals are also able to be involved in a shadowing capacity. Interested in volunteering click here

If after reading this blog your keen to progress further in the Sport and Exercise Medicine world, then volunteer and get involved because who knows, you may be attending the next World University Games, Commonwealth Games or  Olympics Games………………………

See you there?


 Nikki McLaughlin @Nikkimacphysio works at Baseline Physiotherapy in Cardiff and Caerphilly,


(Visited 1,277 times, 1 visits today)