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Difference between a chartered physiotherapist and a physical therapist

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

It could be asked, “are all ‘physios’ the same”? Unfortunately the answer is no. There are currently therapists practicing in Ireland in many different settings including sports and leisure using the term “physiotherapists”/ “physio”/”physical therapist” but who have not completed the required courses recognised by the only governing body in the Republic of Ireland called the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. A Chartered Physiotherapist will have the letters MISCP after their name.  This is your protection that you are being treated by a qualified practitioner. Chartered Physiotherapists are committed to continual professional development and education ensuring the most up to date knowledge and evidence for your care.


Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP)

The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) is the only competent authority acting which has the approval of the Minister for Health and Children for accrediting undergraduate Physiotherapy programmes in the Irish universities. The Society is also the Designated Authority for the review and validation of qualifications obtained outside Ireland. To protect the public, only members of the ISCP are entitled to use the term Chartered Physiotherapist.


Check if your physiotherapist is a Chartered Physiotherapist

Registration with the ISCP has become compulsory for physiotherapists with the appropriate qualification in recent years. This now means it is easier for patients seeking treatment to check if their physiotherapist has appropriate qualifications by simply checking if their physiotherapist is a Chartered Physiotherapist. A simple way of doing this is by going to the ISCP website (; by clicking on the section, “Is your physiotherapist chartered?” and when you type in the name of your Physiotherapist, if he/she is a Chartered Physiotherapist, it will confirm this as well as their county of practice. 


What are the differences?

According to the ISCP, which accredits physiotherapists in Ireland, to be a member of the society and thus a Chartered Physiotherapist, physiotherapists must have completed a three- or four-year degree programme, either in one of four Irish universities or approved international university. This training includes three core areas of muscular skeletal, neurology and cardiorespiratory. By choosing a Chartered Physiotherapist, you are choosing a professional who has scientific approach to the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of your complaint. Chartered Physiotherapists are recognised and covered by VHI, Laya Healthcare, AVIVA and other health insurance schemes


A physical therapist, on the other hand, can complete a course on a part-time basis, from 15 months to a three- year term, so the levels of experience and qualifications do differ. Moreover, training for a physical therapist typically only focuses on muscular-skeletal areas and does not take into account other body functions and processes. While the work undertaken by a physical therapist may be legitimate, the ISCP argues that it is essential that the patient should understand exactly what experience and training the person treating them has obtained.


Only Chartered Physiotherapists are entitled to work in the public sector such as hospitals and health centres, thus it is in the private practice that confusion can arise. According to the ISCP, this grey area is leading to many problems, and it receives many complaints from members of the public who thought they

were seeing a trained physiotherapist.


Health Step Physiotherapy

Whelehans Pharmacy are delighted to announce their new Physiotherapy service, Health Step Physiotherapy, operated by fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist, Kevin Conneely MISCP. Kevin offers reduced physiotherapy rates for under-18s, students with valid student ID and for Over 65’s. He also offers reduced rates for affiliated sports clubs and other groups. Health Step Physiotherapy is now available to book. Simply contact Kevin on 087 4626 093 to advice or call Whelehans at 04493 34591 to book an appointment. Check for more info.

HealthStep Physiotherapy Service with Kevin Conneely, Chartered Physiotherapist based at Whelehans Pharmacy. Contact Kevin on 087 4626 093 to advice or call Whelehans at 04493 34591 to book an appointment.

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