Why the move to accreditation? What are the benefits of becoming accredited?
The pathway to “Accredited Hand Therapist” has been developed to “formalise membership based on 100% assessable standards in hand therapy practice in Australia”, which in turn will strengthen the future of our professional scope of practice.
The benefits of accreditation include
providing a way of ensuring members meet minimum standards or levels of competence
providing members with an opportunity to differentiate themselves from non-members in the market
allows the AHTA to position members as being better practitioners or providing better services than the rest
allows the AHTA to lobby key stakeholders such as insurers, referrers and the public
provides a platform from which to lobby APA and OT Australia for recognition of scope of practice
ensures the continued development and expansion of AHTA education courses, by incorporating these into the accreditation process as electives
The AHT credential is a guarantee for the community that their hand therapist professional is qualified to provide safe, evidence-based diagnosis, advice and treatment.
What is an AHT?
An Accredited Hand Therapist (AHT) is an AHPRA registered physiotherapist or occupational therapist who
Is committed to the Relevant Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethical Practice
Engages in ongoing education and remains current in their practice
Can be subject to a complaints and disciplinary process if required as well as annual audits
Has meet the requirements for the Award of the AHT credential based on 100% assessable standards of practice and mentorship
Complete two additional elective modules. Elective modules may include AHTA Accredited Courses, Council approved university modules, Council approved courses or CHT
OT applicants must complete an approved modalities course as one of their elective modules if the CHT is not undertaken. PT applicants may also choose this elective if they wish. The AHTA has access to a Physical Modalities course for participants to enrol in. Please click this link for further details and to register. Physical Agent Modalities: Occupation-Based Implementation of Thermal and Electrical AgentsAHTA members get a 35% discount. The code AHT35 to be entered at the checkout at time of purchase only.
The Credentialing Council has asked the Education Committee to develop or source additional electives and has suggested the following topics: Wound care, Neurological disorders and neuro-muscular re-education, Medical Imaging and Pain Management. Courses will be added to the elective list as they become available.
What criteria do the Credentialing Council use to determine whether a course can be added to the elective options?
course learning objectives address core hand therapy competencies
course content is equivalent to 50 hours of learning (this may be made up of pre-reading, direct contact hours and assessment preparation / presentation)
learning objectives are assessed via examination (written or practical), or assignment
course meets access requirements
presented at least once every 2 years
presented in different states
OR available in online format
I’ve almost completed a Masters in Hand and Upper Limb Therapy – do I still need to do all of the AHTA courses?
If you complete a Masters in Hand and Upper Limb Therapy via a Council approved course, you don't need to complete the AHTA courses or electives, as you are taking the academic pathway rather than the experiential pathway.
If I choose to apply via the academic pathway or educator pathway, do I still need a mentor?
Yes, everyone going through the AHT application process needs to go through the mentorship program.
What is the time frame to complete the accreditation process?
What happens if I don’t accumulate 3600 hours of hand therapy practice in the 5 years preceding my initial application for AHT?
Your AHT application will not be successful.
I’m an associate member and I’ve done all the AHTA courses over the last 5-6 years – will I need to do them again?
Not if you've done them in the five years prior to the date at which your application for AHT is completed. eg. if you did an AHTA course in August 2014 it will still be valid as long as your AHT application is completed by August 2019
If the AHTA courses were undertaken outside the 5 year time frame (that you have to complete the application process), you will need to attend the courses again. This is because the courses are updated periodically to ensure they reflect current best practice. If you have done all the courses already, we would strongly encourage you to apply for full member prior to December 31st, 2017.
Why isn’t the Orthotics: Immobilisation course included in the compulsory AHTA courses?
The steering committee included the Orthotics: Immobilisation course as compulsory in its original draft, but changed it to an elective after receiving overwhelming feedback from members that they didn’t want this course to be compulsory. Members thought that they had sufficient opportunity to gain the required skills for Orthotics: Immobilisation from their work experience. The Steering Committee determined that the necessary competencies in this area would be assessed by the mentor, and that any deficiencies could be identified and resolved prior to the application being submitted.
Please note, the Orthotics Immobilisation course can be used as one of the two required electives.
Have any changes been made to the AHTA courses now that they are part of the AHT credential?
Yes, there have been a number of changes to the AHTA courses to ensure they meet the high standard of the AHT credential, including the development of learning outcomes specific to each course, as well as more rigorous assessment tasks that align with the HTCC hand therapy competency framework, with each unit representing 50 hours of work, including both face to face and assessment components
I'm an OT. Why am I required to do a modalities course as an elective? Why is a modalities course optional for PT's?
Modalities (thermal and electrical) is a core competency for hand therapy practice. Physiotherapists study modalities in their undergraduate degree, so modalities is considered a graduate competency for them. Occupational Therapy undergraduate programs don't cover modalities, so that's why a modalities course has been made mandatory for OT AHT applicants. Physiotherapists may choose this elective as well, if they wish.
Why is the CHT only worth 2 electives?
The CHT requires high levels of academic knowledge in the management of upper limb conditions, which may not necessarily translate into competence in practice. It is assessed by one three-hour exam, and consists of 200 multiple choice questions, and as such, we felt it more accurately reflected the equivalent of two AHTA courses, or 100 hours of study.
Do I need to be an associate of the AHTA before applying for accreditation?
Yes, you need to be an Associate of the AHTA preceding your application, or hold current membership of an IFSHT recognised association.
I’ve been working for 2 years full time in a hand therapy position since I graduated – can I start the application process?
Yes, as long as you have gained the equivalent of 3 years full time post graduate experience as an occupational therapist or physiotherapist and at least 3600 hours in the 5 years following the submission of your “notification of intent to commence” . You do not necessarily need to take 5 years to complete the process of Accreditation, (you could conceivably do it in 12 months if you have already been working for 2 years) but that is the maximum allowable timeframe for completion.
Will the maternity leave features that exist under the current system carry over to AHT system?
Would the working party consider reducing the number of hours required for accreditation, of increasing the number of years over which the hours can be accumulated (to accommodate part time working mothers)?
No, not beyond the current maternity leave provisions
What would happen to Associates who don’t want to become Accredited Hand Therapists?
Nothing. Associate membership level will remain for those undertaking accreditation as well as those who are ineligible or choose not to accredit
When will the AHTA stop accepting applications for full membership under the current system?
December 31st, 2017
I’ve let my full membership with the AHTA lapse as I have been working overseas for a number of years. I’m coming back to Australia next year – will I need to go through the full AHT application process?
Yes, unless you apply and fulfil the requirements under the current rules to reinstate your full member status prior to December 31st, 2017, in which case you would be grandfathered across to the AHT credential. Otherwise you can re-join the AHTA as an Associate.
I’m a full member currently on maternity leave and I’m not sure I will have the CPD hours to meet the requirements for maintaining the AHT credential. What happens in this case?
Full members on maternity leave as of December 31st, 2017 will be grandfathered across to the AHT credential with a condition that your CPD log will be submitted at the end of your maternity leave. Whilst on maternity leave you can still listen to webinars, take online courses and read journal articles to maintain CPD.
As part of the AHT application, you will be required to complete a 12 month period of mentorship during which time sections 3 and 4 of the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC) Mentor Manual will be completed
If you are working in isolation, you must arrange for 5 days of work experience in a practice with your mentor (or an alternative mentor if this is not practical)
The AHTA has permission to use the HTCC Mentor Manual in its current form with acknowledgement of the HTCC.
How do I get a mentor?
You can propose your own mentor for approval by the Credentialing Council or alternatively, you can request that the Council appoint a mentor for you
Can I access the HTCC Mentor Handbook before I start my application?
Yes, you can download the manual from the HTCC website at any time, but you will not receive instructions about how to use the manual for the purpose of your AHT application until you have completed a “notification of intent to commence” and payed your application fee. ( NB. Not all of the HTCC Mentor Manual will be required for AHT)
What happens if not all areas of the HTCC Mentor Manual are relevant to me?
You will need to complete 75% of the modules outlined in the HTCC Mentor Manual, to the satisfaction of your mentor.
What is required of the mentor?
Mentoring is a developmental partnership between two or more individuals who share interest in the hand therapy profession. The collaborative and reciprocal relationship promotes mutual professional growth.
The mentor acts as an advocate to encourage clinical application of learning and critical thinking
If approved by the Credentialing Council, the mentor may be an AHT colleague of the mentee in the same practice.
The mentor must be familiar with the HTCC Mentor Manual
How does a therapist become a mentor?
You must be a current AHTA AHT
You can be nominated to be a mentor by the mentee
You must be willing to be trained as a Mentor.
Is there any incentive to be a mentor?
Mentors will be remunerated with a $300 membership fee relief (all fees are subject to review by the credentialing council every 2 years)
Fee relief is only available after the completed mentorship log has been received by council
Fee relief can only be claimed once annually, even if more than one mentee per mentor
Mentors will also be able to claim the full complement of hours to fulfil the annual requirement of “contributions to the profession” in their CPD.
If I have more than one mentee, can I claim more hours for “contributions to the profession”?
No, you can only claim the hours for “contributions to the profession” once annually, regardless of how many mentees you have.
I am a current full member working in a public hospital and am interested in becoming a mentor when the new system starts. I’m not sure the hospital will allow a therapist who is not an employee of the hospital, to come and sit in for 5 days – what are the options in this case?
If your hospital wont allow a therapist to come in for 5 days of work experience, it may be that the applicant needs to organise time in an alternative clinic, or they may need to find a different mentor. We suggest you check your hospital’s policies and procedures around work experience prior to agreeing to be a mentor.
In some cases for remote therapists, supervision via telehealth, where the patient is in the room, has been used in the past. If this system is used, there needs to be a log of time equivalent to a maximum of 3 days full time on site supervision, with the other two days needing to be face to face.
All of the 5 days does not need to be completed at one time - the Mentee could conceivably do 1-2 days per yer and this is often easier for the public health system to agree to accommodate.
Click here to view the AHT Credential Council Webinar recording on "Mentorship" all you need to know and more!
Once I become accredited, is that it? Do I need to go through any form of reaccreditation?
All members will need to reaccredit after 5 years – you will be notified by the Credentialing Council 6 months before reaccreditation is due.
What are the requirements for reaccreditation?
Evidence of 2000 hours of clinical hand therapy practice over 5 years, of which 50% must be direct provision of patient care for the first recertification, and for subsequent recertification can be a mix of clinical, administration, supervision and/or teaching.
Provision of a log of 30 hours of CPD per year. By completing your annual AHT CPD requirements you also fulfil your CPD obligations for registration by AHPRA. This equates to 150 hours of CPD over 5 years, of which 75 hours must be directly related to hand therapy
The log of CPD and clinical practice evidence will be the responsibility of the AHT to upload to the Credentialing Council at least 2 months prior to the expiry of the AHT credential.
What if I don’t meet all the requirements for reaccreditation in the 5 year time period?
AHT status will be forfeited and you will need to reapply via the Resumption of Accredited Practice Program
How will the Credentialing Council manage if everyone is reaccrediting at the same time?
AHT members will be invited to re-accreditation after 4 years on a pro-rata basis to avoid all members having to be re-accredited at the same time.
AHT’s choosing to reaccredit early will be offered a discount of 20% of the application fee.
What are the ongoing CPD requirements I need to meet in order to maintain my AHT credential?
You will need to provide evidence of 30 hours of CPD per year and by completing your annual AHT CPD requirements you also fulfil your CPD obligations for registration by AHPRA. You must include a minimum of 10 hours per year of “contributions to the profession” and a minimum of 20 hours per year of “ongoing education”.
What happens if I don’t complete 30 hours of CPD in the calendar year?
You will be required to make up the hours in the following 12-month period.
CPD Diary - Online Tracker (Updated on the new AMS coming soon!!)
I’ve heard there is a $250 reaccreditation fee. Is this on top of membership fees and if so, what does that money go towards?
There is $250 reaccreditation fee, which is paid every 5 years. This fee is separate to membership fees and will be used to cover the costs of the Credentialing Council and the accreditation process, development of the AHT Credential, and governance oversight. This has been priced on a cost recovery basis, and it is important to know that much like the HTCC in the USA, the AHTA Credentialing Council is a separate independent body.
The Credentialing Council is an independent council responsible for the regulatory framework for the scope of practice of Hand Therapy in Australia
The Credentialing Council provides recommendations to the Management Committee of the AHTA to admit Accredited Hand Therapists as AHT Members of the AHTA and allow the use of the post nominal of Accredited Hand Therapist (as awarded by the AHTA) by Registered Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists.
The Credentialing Council acts to ensure that the AHT credentialing and regulation processes are efficient, equitable, accountable and transparent, and to ensure public safety, quality and professional standards for the scope of practice of Hand Therapy in Australia
Who will be making up the staffing of the Credentialing Council and how will it be governed for quality and impartiality on an ongoing basis?
The council will be established in compliance with AS NZS ISO IEC 17024-2013 Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons.
The council will have 7 members, comprising
One representative from the AHTA Management Committee (Credentialing Portfolio Officer)
One representative from physiotherapy academia
One representative from OT academia
2 elected members from the membership of AHT’s
2 independent representatives whose skills match the requirements of the Credentialing Council.
How can you guarantee that there is no bias, or conflict of interest in approving AHT applications?
The AHT Credentialing Council will be independent of the AHTA management committee and should not be perceived to have, or actually have a conflict of interest in the appointments of applicants.
How often will the Credentialing Council meet?
The Credentialing Council will meet every 2 months to review applications from associates wishing to upgrade to Accredited Hand Therapist, review applications for re-accreditation and also to review requests for mentors for those associates wishing to commence the process of accreditation.