SCOPE OF PRACTICE
At its retreat last June of 2013, the OATA Board devised a new scope of practice statement for the profession in Ontario. There were two objectives in doing so. The principal objective was to devise a scope of practice statement that reflects the modern athletic therapy practice in Ontario. The second objective was to cast the scope of practice statement using the terminology and structure of scope of practice statements for professions regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).
The scope of practice devised by the Board is:
"The practice of Athletic Therapy is the diagnosis and treatment from the point of injury along the continuum of care, or physical disease, disorder or dysfunction to rehabilitate function, relieve and manage pain and includes the prevention of physical injury, disease, disorder or dysfunction."
It was always the Board's intention to consult with the leadership of the Athletic Therapy education programs and to promote comments and suggestions from the membership and other stakeholders before finalizing the scope of practice statement. That work is underway.
First, any scope of practice statement devised and adopted by the OATA would not "trump" a scope of practice statement legislated by the government. For example, should Athletic Therapists decide to join the College of Kinesiologists, we would be governed by the statutory scope of practice in the Kinesiology Act, 2007 which is broader and arguably more vague than the scope of practice statement the OATA Board has put forward. It would be the statutory scope of practice that would form the basis for the recognition of academic programs by the College of Kinesiologists.
Second, there has been considerable debate around the use of the term "diagnose" in the scope of practice statement devised by the Board. Some see this as an infringement of the RHPA -controlled act of "communicating a diagnosis". It's not. The original framers of the RHPA made it very clear that the controlled act applies only to the communication of a diagnosis to a patient or to a patient's personal representative. That position has subsequently been confirmed on numerous occasions by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. There is no prohibition against a practitioner formulating a diagnosis to inform the development of a treatment plan. The RHPA also defines diagnosis as the act of "identifying a disease or disorder as the cause of symptoms of the individual in circumstances in which it is reasonably foreseeable that the individual or his or her personal representative will rely on the diagnosis".
There is also no prohibition against communicating a diagnosis relating to a physical dysfunction. Members of RHPA professions that are not authorized to perform the controlled act of "communicating a diagnosis" are, nonetheless, able to: