Proposed Policy to Recognize Specialties

In today’s competitive labour market, professionals often try to distinguish themselves through the use of titles or designations that indicate to the public the unique skills and knowledge that they possess. The College allows kinesiologists to use titles or designations in addition to “kinesiologist”, “registered kinesiologist” or “R.Kin”, provided that those titles refer to certifications reflective of significant skills and learning that would not necessarily be achieved through normal continuing professional development. However, as described in the College’s Practice Guideline - Use of Titles and Designations, kinesiologists are not permitted to call themselves a “specialist” in any area of practic. Doing so is considered professional misconduct.

The College acknowledges that within the practice of kinesiology, a specialty or restricted area of practice requiring additional training may arise. The profession may define several areas of practice as “specialties”. Authorization of the use of a specialty title by the College would have the effect of restricting the title to individuals who have completed a specified education and training program approved by the College. The College would approve such education and training programs only where there is demonstrated risk to the public.

The College has been asked about whether it will authorize the use of a specialty title and the criteria for the recognition of such a title. The College conducted extensive research and preliminary consultations, and developed a draft Specialties Assessment Framework and draft Policy- Authorization of a Specialty Title. The framework discusses what might be considered by the College to authorize a specialty and what process would be used to ensure fair and open consideration of a proposal for authorization of a specialty title. The policy discusses how the College would process requests to use a specialty title.

In developing the framework, the College attempted to distinguish between what it would consider a specialty, and what would generally be recognized as individual expertise or competence. Once a kinesiologist enters practice, their individual expertise evolves based on experience and further education. Depending on the practice context, an individual kinesiologist’s scope of practice may be broader than that of the profession. Differences in individual versus profession-wide scope of practice exist in most if not all professions.

What’s in the draft Specialties Assessment Framework?

In summary, a specialty must:

  • Require advanced knowledge and skills that (a) are recognized as part of a special area of kinesiology practice, or combination of recognized special areas of kinesiology practice; and (b) cannot be adequately represented to the public and to other health professions solely through the use of the R.Kin designation.
  • Build upon the essential competencies of the profession in a distinct area by adding increased depth of knowledge, and by increasing the skills of practitioners within the area of specialty.
  • Adhere to the standards of practice and the essential competencies of kinesiology.
  • Demonstrate the competencies required to provide advanced and specialized kinesiology services.
  • Respond to a recurrent set of well-defined situations/problems/needs related to a defined population.
  • Provide education and training beyond what is attained in a four or five-year kinesiology bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree program from a recognized Ontario university.

The document also describes the process to accredit programs.

In summary:

  • The College, or an organization that the College designates to do this on its behalf, would accredit certificate, diploma or degree programs that qualify kinesiologists to practise as a specialist within kinesiology.
  • A program that meets the College’s requirements to recognize a specialty must submit an application to have that program accredited (see pages 3-5 of the draft Framework for more detailed information).
  • A Committee on Specialties then reviews the application according to the standards of accreditation (Appendix 1).
  • The College will undertake extensive consultation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, other health profession regulators, professional associations, kinesiologists, the public and other stakeholders on the proposed specialty.
  • After consultation, Council determines whether or not to accredit a training program as meeting the requirements for specialty training.

Once a program is accredited, kinesiologists may then submit an application to the College to use the specialty title associated with the program. The draft Policy- Authorization of a Specialty Title describes how the College will process such requests. A specialty title authorized by the College becomes a protected title and may only be used by individuals who have the required education and certification.

The College has received and is reviewing a Proposal to Create an Athletic Therapy Specialty from the Ontario Athletic Therapist Association. The College intends to take a transparent, consultative and inclusive approach to the development of a policy on specialties.