Sunday, October 31, 2010

Norwegian Physiotherapist Association


Contact information
Norsk Fysioterapeutforbund
(Norwegian Physiotherapist Association)
P. O. B. 2704 St. Hanshaugen
0131 Oslo, NORWAY
Phone: +47 22 93 30 50
Fax: +47 22 56 58 25
Please note: We regret to inform that The Norwegian Physiotherapist Association does not supply foreign students with sponsorships. Please do not make enquiries to us about this and/or related topics or about the Norwegian labour market. Letters of this sort will not be answered. We only offer service towards potential or excisting members (i.e. authorized physiotherapists).
Norwegian Physiotherapist Association (NPA) has more than 9500 members. It organises publicly certified physiotherapists and students. Both private practitioners and publicly employed physiotherapists are members. 77 % of the members are women. The main task of the NPA is working to improve member salaries and working conditions as well as stimulating professional development and quality. The association has 21 local branches. NPA is a member of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT).
NPA arranges on average 50 continuing education courses annually. The association publishes the journal Fysioterapeuten (The Physiotherapist) with 12 issues a year.
600 NPA members have been granted the right to use one or more of the following titles:
  • Specialist in General Physiotherapy MNPA
  • Specialist in Paediatric Physiotherapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Prevention and Ergonomics MNPA 
  • Specialist in Sports Physiotherapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Manual Therapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Oncologic Physiotherapy MNPA
  • Specialist in Psychiatric and Psychosomatic Physiotherapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Geriatric Physiotherapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Cardio-Respiratory Physiotherapy MNPA 
  • Specialist in Neurologic Physiotherapy MNPA
  • Specialist in Orthopaedic Physiotherapy MNPA
  • Specialist in Obstetric and Gynecologic Physiotherapy MNPA
  • Specialist in Rheumatologic Physiotherapy MNPA 
NPA has 11 special interest groups. Members can join one or several of the fields.
  • Paediatric and juvenile physiotherapy
  • Ergonomics
  • Gerontology/geriatric physiotherapy
  • Manual therapy
  • Mensendieck physiotherapy
  • Neurology/orthopaedics/rheumatology
  • Women's health
  • Psychiatric and psychosomatic physiotherapy
  • Sports physiotherapy 
  • Cardio-respiratory physiotherapy 
  • Oncologic physiotherapy 
Physiotherapy in Norway
In Norway physiotherapy is protected by law. Norwegian citizens are entitled to get treatment from a physiotherapist if they need it. Both title and functions are legally defined. The physiotherapist is legally responsible for his or her own professional actions.
Physiotherapy constitutes prevention and treatment of disease and physical suffering. The physiotherapist has extensive knowledge of the parts of the body we use when we move i.e. muscles, tendons, joints, the circulatory system, and respiration. The main tasks of a physiotherapist are health promotion and disease prevention, treatment, training, and rehabilitation.
Health promotion and disease prevention
The physiotherapist knows why disease and injury occur, and can give advice on how to prevent pain and relapse of disease. The physiotherapist's work in health clinics, in nurseries, at schools and in work places is mainly preventive. A sub speciality within physiotherapy is ergonomics, which involves organising work environment. Many companies have their own physiotherapist who gives advice on how to promote health and to improve the environment and safety in the work place.
First the physiotherapist performs a thorough examination; the type of treatment given depends on the patient's resources and the connection between pain, joint mobilisation and muscle tension. Training, exercise, massage, hot and cold treatment, or electrotherapy are among the types of treatment that can be given. The treatment is given either individually or in groups.
Many Norwegian physiotherapists have postgraduate training. The most common fields are manual therapy and psychiatric and psychosomatic physiotherapy. Physiotherapists who have been trained in manual therapy have special competence on neck, back and pelvic disorders. Following a thorough evaluation, the main elements in the treatment approach are patient guidance, joint manipulation or mobilization, and exercise therapy. Psychiatric and psychosomatic physiotherapy aims at easing physical tension, improving respiration, or body awareness. This kind of treatment is not only aimed at treating local symptoms, but is a continuous treatment. Many physiotherapist offer group treatment in psychiatric and psychosomatic physiotherapy.
The training of children with congenital dysfunction to a best possible level of functionality is called habilitation. This is interdisciplinary work where the physiotherapist is part of a habilitation team. Such teams are found in every region of the country. Habilitation takes place in the counties, at the hospitals and in special institutions.
Rehabilitation is aimed at helping persons with handicaps or chronic disease so they can manage on their own and function socially. The aim of this process is for the patient to regain or preserve a best possible level of functionality through learning and by using own resources. The term rehabilitation is used about the work with patients from 16-18 years of age to the end of life. The patients may have been subject to accidents or disease. One such disease may be stroke, which is an example of a disease that demands interdisciplinary co-operation. Physiotherapists work with rehabilitation in the patient's home, in nursing homes, and in special institutions.
Where do Norwegian physiotherapists work?
The work of physiotherapists involves all parts of health care and the working life in general. The local communities are legally obliged to provide physiotherapy to its citizens. Among the members of the Norwegian Physiotherapist Association (NPA), there are 2,300 private practitioners and around 2,800 who are public employees (employed by the counties, regions, and state). A third category work in private companies, i.e. ergonomics. This applies to 500 of NPA's members.
Private practice
There are two types of physiotherapists with private practice in Norway: Those with and those without an agreement with the local county or community. Those who have an agreement with the community receive an annual contribution. (This is a fixed rate, in 2001 it is NOK 182.520). The local social security office also reimburses them. These physiotherapists operate with prices that are set by the "Price agreement". The other category of private practitioner operates without an agreement with the local community. They do not receive any contributions and are not reimbursed by the local social security office. They compensate by charging their patients more.
Public activity
In excess of 1,000 NPA members work in hospitals. Among the most important tasks they perform are mobility training after surgery, breathing exercises, pain therapy, and relaxation. Many physiotherapists are employed in health institutions (such as psychiatric institutions), or at rehabilitation centres. The different counties employ 1,500 of NAP's members. They work in health centres, in nurseries, in schools, and in the patient's homes. Physiotherapists also work in the fields of education, research and administration.
In order to become a physiotherapist in Norway you need to study for three years in an institution of higher education, and also have one year of mandatory practise. Around 300 physiotherapists are educated in Norway each year. Traditionally, many Norwegians have studied physiotherapy abroad. Most of the students have gone to Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and the US. This trend is going to change from 2001, because the government has decided to withdraw grants to students who wish to study physiotherapy abroad.
There are five centres for educating physiotherapists in Norway:
Oslo University College, Faculty of HealthSciences
Department of Physiotherapy
Phone: +47 22 45 24 00
Oslo College, School of Health
Department of Mensendieck
Phone: +47 22 45 24 30
Sør-Trøndelag College, School of Health Education and Social Work
Department of Physiotherapy
Phone: +47 73 55 91 50
Bergen College, School of Health and Functionality
Department of Physiotherapy
Phone: +47 55 58 75 00
Tromsø College
Department of Physiotherapy
Phone: +47 77 66 06 01

Conditions of authorisation
For physiotherapists there are two normal situations relating to applications for licencing or authorisation:
  1. Authorisation: Authorisation is granted to applicants who have successfully completed their education/training as physiotherapist and who have completed the necessary "turnus" (practical service). The conditions for authorisation are stated in Health Personnel Act, section 48.
  2. Licence: A licence represents permission to practise as physiotherapists, but under certain conditions. A licence can be restricted in terms of e.g. duration and location, and can only be granted following concrete evaluation as to whether the licencee is capable of practising her/his professionally responsibly. A licence provides the holder with additional opportunities. Typically, a licence applies to foreign physiotherapists who are not in possession of basic education/training equivalent to that of Norwegian physiotherapists. But licences may also be granted to physiotherapists who have previously had their licences (official recognition) revoked, but who are in process of being reinstated.
Applicants with EEA education/training and possible authorisation as physiotherapists Special regulations relating to authorisation apply to applicants with foreign authorisation as physiotherapists.
Norway has through a special Nordic Agreement (not currently available in English) agreed to acknowledge authorisation of physiotherapists by other Nordic countries. In such cases, no assessment is made as to whether the qualification is the equivalent of the corresponding Norwegian qualification.
For applicants with education/training from other EEA countries, applications will be processed in accordance with Council Directive 89/48/EEC, cf. 92/51/EEC (with subsequent amendments). This does not grant right of recognition, but the Directive contains rules governing the granting of authorisation. These rules have been incorporated in a separate EEA Regulation of 21 December 2000, see Ch. VII. The main rule is that the education/training not deviate to any marked degree from the requirements as to competence laid down by Norwegian regulations (Norw. "rammeplan").
Applicants with other foreign qualifications as physiotherapists
For applicants with foreign qualifications from outside the EEA, it is required that such qualification be judged as the professional equivalent of Norwegian certificate, cf. Health Personnel Act, section 48, subsection 3a. Such assessment is made by the applicant's documentation of her/his own qualification as described in curricula, work experience etc. representing the equivalent of curricula related to Norwegian education/training (Norw. "rammeplan"). Applicants will be expected to be acquainted with Norwegian health services. In certain cases external advisers will assist SAFH in making an assessment. Advisers do not make the final decision but provide professional advice which SAFH takes into account when assessing applicants' qualifications. Only when foreign qualifications have been evaluated will processing of an application for authorisation be finalised.

Updated 23.08.2001


The legal basis for the decisions of the Norwegian Registration Authority for Health Personnel (SAFH) regarding authorisation or licences to health personnel is the The Health Personnel Act of 1999. This and other relevant acts may be found under Acts.
Regulations relating to details of authorisation, licensing and approval of specialists, issued pursuant to the Health Personnel Act, as well as some relevant regulations concerning requirements relating to education and immigration, are found under Regulations.
Applicants, whose education or training has been obtained in an EEA country other than Norway (European Union, Iceland, and Lichtenstein), are covered by the EEA rules concerning mutual recognition of training and authorisation, see under EEA / EU.
Applicants, whose education or training has been obtained in Switzerland, or who are citizens of Switzerland, are covered by the relevant rules in the agreement between Switzerland and the EU.
Decisions relating to approval of specialist training have been delegated to the professional organisations; see under Links/Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training.
Most categories of health personnel with authorisation from Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Sweden are covered by the Agreement on a Common Nordic Labour Market for certain categories of health personnel and veterinarians. This agreement gives privileges which are more extensive than those following from the EEA Treaty. This agreement has not been translated into English.
All translations into English are unofficial. Only the Norwegian version of acts or regulations will be valid in a legal conflict.
Please note that although the regulations generally name the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs as the competent authority, in most cases this authority has been delegated to SAFH. As a general rule applications and queries from individual health personnel and relating to authorisation or licence should be submitted to SAFH. .

Last updated 30.12.2004

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