Review Article

Competencies of undergraduate physiotherapy education: A scoping review

Tonderai W. Shumba, Ara Tekian
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 80, No 1 | a1879 | DOI: | © 2024 Tonderai W. Shumba, Ara Tekian | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2023 | Published: 19 January 2024

About the author(s)

Tonderai W. Shumba, Department of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
Ara Tekian, Department of Medical Education, Chicago College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, United States


Background: In recent years, the need for competency-based medical education has been emphasised. Each country needs a defined set of physiotherapy competencies from the associations and governing bodies.

Objectives: Our review aimed to map competencies of undergraduate physiotherapy education and propose a context-specific competency framework for Namibia.

Method: This scoping review was conducted following the Joanna Briggs Institute framework and was reported using the Preferred Reporting for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis Extension for Scoping Reviews. Qualitative direct content analysis utilising the five main competency domains from the WHO Rehabilitation Competency Framework was adapted.

Results: Five main competency domains were proposed: practice, professional growth and involvement, learning and development, management and leadership, and research. Nineteen potential competencies were identified, and each competency has a set of knowledge and skills activities that is expected of each student.

Conclusion: The proposed competencies still need to undergo expert consensus and content validation before they can be adopted and implemented in Namibia. Future studies can explore the perspectives and experiences of the faculty, students and clinicians on the current status of competency-based education of undergraduate physiotherapy programme in Namibia. Similarly, future studies can focus on possible assessment strategies that can be used for each competency and an evaluation framework for assessing milestones in student competencies from entry into clinical education to graduation.

Clinical implications: The review proposed a context-specific competency framework for Namibia with a set of knowledge and skills activities that is expected of each student. The faculty can adopt these competencies and improve on their competency-based physiotherapy education.


competencies; undergraduate physiotherapy; review; assessment strategies; milestones evaluation; Namibia.


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