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Army Air Force Navy

Physiotherapy Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Physiotherapy Officers assess, educate and treat Forces members for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. They establish treatment plans for a variety of orthopaedic, cardio-respiratory, neuro-musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy issues.

As a member of the Canadian Forces Health Services team, Physiotherapy Officers are responsible for assessing injury and developing treatment plans with the objective of returning Forces members to active duty. They also provide advice and guidance in:

  • Worksite assessments and industrial ergonomics;
  • Injury prevention;
  • Health promotion;
  • Sports injury education;
  • Pre-deployment education; and
  • Reconditioning programs.

Work environment

Physiotherapy Officers work in the physiotherapy clinic of a Health Care Centre with other members of the military health care team. They work in a typical clinical environment using manual therapy and soft-tissue techniques. They also have access to physical agents such as cold, heat, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and electrotherapy modalities. Equipment includes conventional tools such as weights, pulleys, exercise apparatus, traction tables, dynamometers, assistive devices, orthopedic supplies, ortheses and splinting, in addition to more sophisticated devices such as isokinetic-isotonic systems, treadmills and other computerized aerobic-fitness equipment.

When deployed on operations, Physiotherapy Officers may be required to work in temporary facilities. However, they continue to work to maintain and enhance the operational readiness of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and support the work of other members of the Health Services team.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview



Physiotherapy Officer

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: I’m Captain Kelly Debouter from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I’m a Physiotherapy Officer currently serving at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

As a member of the Health Services team, Physiotherapy Officers assess and establish treatment plans for a variety of orthopedic, neuro-musculoskeletal, cardio-respiratory, and sports issues.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: We do have a unique clientele in the military – they need to be able to perform their job, and their job can vary from jumping out of helicopters, climbing over walls, lifting heavy engines into vehicles. So we need to be able to train them to return to that level of function. We’re very fortunate in the military to be able to take the time that we need with a patient. Our typical schedule is an hour for an initial assessment and 20 minutes for a follow-up. But if I feel like I need additional time with a member in order to give them the best treatment, then I get to take that.

In Canada, this work traditionally occurs on bases and wings, in well-equipped physiotherapy clinics similar to civilian private practice clinics found in the community. However, when deployed on operations, Physiotherapy Officers may be required to work in temporary facilities where they work closely with other members of the Health Services team to maintain and enhance the operational readiness of Forces members.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: Not only do we get to practise in different cities and clinics across Canada, we get to deploy to places like Afghanistan and Latvia. I’ve also been able to travel internationally with some sports teams and attend the World Military Games, World Championship-level sporting events that I probably wouldn’t get to do as a civilian.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: The coolest part of the job is that it’s always changing. It’s always going to be interesting – there’s always something coming up that’s going to pique my interest and keep me engaged in my job. It’s a constant learning experience; I’m learning new techniques and different ways to treat people and that’s ever-evolving.

Once they complete their basic military training, Physiotherapy Officers are posted to a physiotherapy clinic located on a Canadian Armed Forces base or wing where they’ll continue their professional development and training on the job.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: Every year, I have money that’s allotted to me to take continuing education courses, so I can do things like dry-needling courses, concussion training. I’ve actually been able to do a second Master’s degree at the University of Western Ontario and obtained my Advanced Certificate in Manipulative Physical Therapy. There’s options for taking any course that you want. I’ve even been able to take my yoga teacher training within the military.

Early in their career, they will also be sent on the Basic Physiotherapy Officer Course where they learn the core administrative knowledge and unique professional information required to practise physiotherapy in a military environment.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: You’re really focusing on becoming the best clinician that you can. So you treat patients in the clinic and then, as you develop those skills, other opportunities come to do things like administrative tasks within the clinic or even within the hospital as a whole.

CAPTAIN KELLY DEBOUTER: When I was in physiotherapy school, I’d done some placements in private practice, and I knew that I needed more. I knew that I needed some sort of adventure and that going to the same clinic every day was not going to give me what I was looking for. I’ve been able to travel the world, get training and see places that I never thought I would see.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Physiotherapist


After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.


Learn more about Basic Training here.

Physiotherapy Officers must complete the Common Health Services Officer (CHSO) course which is an eight-day e-learning course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN).  The CHSO course introduces Physiotherapy Officers to Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures as well as HR management of military members and civilian personnel.

Physiotherapy Officers complete formal preceptorship training for approximately 30 days in Borden, Ontario. This training provides the core administrative knowledge and unique professional information concerning practicing physiotherapy in a military setting.


Physiotherapy Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses, participation in professional conferences, and on-the-job training, including:

  • Clinical skills maintenance
  • Manual therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Ergonomics
  • Biomechanics of the foot and Orthotics
  • Wound and burn management
  • Sport physiology

As they progress in their career, Physiotherapy Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Leadership development;
  • Leadership training; and
  • Post graduate training.

Entry plans

Those wishing to enter this occupation must be a licensed Physiotherapist in Canada.

Subsidized Education - Entry Level Masters (SEELM)

If you have been accepted to an accredited Master's degree program in Physiotherapy at a recognized Canadian university, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete the Master's program. They receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must have proof that you have been accepted without condition to a Master’s degree program in Physiotherapy at a Canadian university.

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter:

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

For the most part, Physiotherapy Officers serve in the Regular Force.  There are limited opportunities for serving in the Reserve Force as a physiotherapist.

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for CAF operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the CAF and the local community.

As a health care professional in the Health Service Reserves, you must have an unrestricted license to practice in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve as a member of the 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa. Reserve Force members in this unit reside across Canada and serve part time a minimum of 14 days per year in a military clinic or on military training when required.  They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Physiotherapy Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as members of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. They are employed to assess, educate and treat CAF members for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, with the objective of returning them to active duty. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a location within Canada.

Find a Recruiting Centre

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. Applicants with a Physiotherapy degree from an accredited Physiotherapy program in Canada with a current license to practice Physiotherapy in a province or territory in Canada and who are eligible for membership in the Canadian Physiotherapy Association may be placed directly into the required military training program following basic officer training.

Reserve Force Physiotherapy Officers may serve part-time at a Health Services Clinic and may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.