Physiotherapy Practice

Trusted resources to support evidence-informed health care delivery by physiotherapists and related staff within Nova Scotia Health.

Practising as a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy is an autonomous and self-regulated health profession. A physiotherapist may:

  • Act as a primary care practitioner (through direct access)
  • Be employed as a member of a physiotherapy or interdisciplinary team

Physiotherapists work to restore or enhance function and improve quality of life by:

  • Promoting optimized mobility, physical activity, and overall health and wellness
  • Preventing disease, injury and disability
  • Managing acute and chronic conditions
  • Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease and disability with therapeutic exercise and other appropriate interventions
  • Educating and planning maintenance and support programs to prevent re-occurrence, re-injury or functional decline
  • Educating on pain management strategies

(Canadian Physiotherapy Association, 2012)

Physiotherapy services at Nova Scotia Health are performed by physiotherapists or other trained individuals working under a physiotherapist’s direction and supervision1, such as:

  • Physiotherapy residents
  • Physiotherapy assistants
  • Rehabilitation assistants
  • Physiotherapy aides

Physiotherapists within Nova Scotia Health are responsible for the coordination and direction of all physiotherapy-related patient care. They work at most Nova Scotia Health sites and their practice settings may include:

  • Primary care
  • Acute care
  • Ambulatory care/Outpatient services
  • Subacute care
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Long-term care
  • Community

Model of Care Initiative in Nova Scotia (MOCINS)

The Model of Care Initiative in Nova Scotia (MOCINS) was a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Wellness, the former district health authorities (now Nova Scotia Health), and IWK Health.

Role profile defines the scope of practice and identifies opportunities for role optimization.

Position description operationalizes the profile into a human resources tool that can be used to determine rate of pay, recruitment, performance management, orientation, career development, etc.

Scope of Practice

Physiotherapy scope of practice is determined by provincial legislation. In Nova Scotia, it is outlined in the Physiotherapy Act. Scope of practice sets the outer limits of what physiotherapists can perform. This is supported by entry-level competencies, and standards of practice and guidelines from the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists. Legislation is generally broad and flexible to accommodate patient needs and roles of health care professionals within the variety of care settings where they may work.

Scope of Employment

Scope of employment refers to the range of roles and responsibilities defined by Nova Scotia Health through legislation, job descriptions, policies and procedures, guidelines, orientation processes and education2.

Physiotherapists will only perform assessments and interventions that are within their scope of employment. 


  1. Canadian Physiotherapy Association. (2012). Description of Physiotherapy in Canada 2012. Ottawa: The Association. Available from:
  2. College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. (2015). Adding New Interventions to the Registered Nurse Role: Decision Making Framework. Halifax, NS.