At the beginning of 2020, the National Chamber of Physiotherapists became an official member of World Physiotherapy. We have been operating together for over a year. What are your impressions of this collaboration?
It is worth mentioning that although KIF has been officially in the structures of World Physiotherapy since 2020, our cooperation dates back to earlier years. I am very pleased with our common activities. It is always good to work with an organization that is actively involved in the work from the very beginning and at the same time knowing what it wants. It is the ability to use when new opportunities arrive from the world.
From the very beginning, KIF’s international activities were aimed at promoting Polish physiotherapy but also to create the global identity of the profession.
This is what I appreciate at KIF. Taking care of Polish physiotherapists is understandably a priority, but you also devoted a lot of work to supporting foreign colleagues. Anyway, this is the key mission of World Physiotherapy – to be a global hub connecting physiotherapists from around the world! Due to the pandemic, this traditional, face-to-face communication has become challenging, therefore we have created the possibility of constant online communication.
You mentioned how the pandemic affected World Physiotherapy’s relations. KIF’s membership in World Physiotherapy actually began with the appearance of coronavirus. Was it supportive, having KIF and other member organizations onboard during this difficult time?
The crisis mobilized everyone to act. Paradoxically, although distant due to lockdown, we felt very close as a professional environment. We were connected by the same concerns: the safety of physiotherapists, their participation in the fight against the pandemic, the transition to telehealth, and problems related to education. KIF has been extremely active in each of the above areas. You have produced videos supporting seniors, COVID patients, office workers, which, thanks to your translations into other languages, we were able to provide to other member organizations. You, on the other hand, have been able to use the materials we shared providing Polish physiotherapists by translating them into your mother tongue. Such a partnership means a lot to us.
You are always up to date with the activities of the member organizations. This is impressive considering that World Physiotherapy brings together over 120 countries from all over the world. We summarize KIF’s first four-year term. How do you rate our work?
I can confidently say that KIF is currently a leader in Europe in an innovative and creative approach to the profession. You show the direction to countries that are deeply rooted in the tradition of the so-called old school physiotherapy. A modern social campaign, films distributed all over the world, but also innovative professional regulations. It puts you at the forefront of progress. A Polish physiotherapist was one of the first to gain the rights to vaccinate against COVID – this is a great achievement! It turns out that KIF is not waiting for the rest of the world to create, research and patent something, but to follow its modern development paths. It motivates us all.
Thank you for raising that issue. It means a lot when someone experienced in the international arena like you, notices our success. Our development was occupied by the hard work of many committed people. Fortunately, faith in success and confidence allowed us to find ourselves here. But we don’t stop. How do you see our further cooperation?
Further cooperation will certainly be based on promoting the participation of physiotherapists in the so-called Long COVID. The long-term effects of COVID disease will be a target of health policy for many years to come. We physiotherapists must be seen as the leaders in the rehabilitation of Long COVID. Patients struggling with ailments caused by this disease should recognize that they need physiotherapy. Therefore, the task of World Physiotherapy, with the support of member organizations, will be increased marketing activity about our role in Long COVID rehabilitation on World PT Day in 2021. This may sound like a cold calculation, but for physiotherapists, it’s time to prove their skills and mark their participation in the health sector. This is a chance for the further development of the profession, also for Poland.
Does World Physiotherapy plan to mark KIF’s presence in Europe?
In the European region we focus on the mobility of the profession. Physiotherapy should be a career path that enables equal development in Europe. KIF has raised the level of education from bachelor’s degree to entry-level master’s. The possibility for foreigners to study at universities in Poland increases the standards of work after their return to the country.
Additionally, from the point of view of our organization, it is good to have a strong member who can support less developed countries in terms of physiotherapy. When I think about Polish physiotherapy, I think about being a leader for Eastern European countries. KIF has shown strong leadership. Who would have thought two years ago that the Polish government would support telerehabilitation or vaccinations administered by physiotherapists?
During our membership, we stayed in constant contact. What do you remember as our most important common activity last year?.
Since our face-to-face activities were limited we focused on the exchange of information and support for mutual initiatives. We have collected valuable information, also thanks to KIF, which will now serve as an argument in the health policy of countries recovering from the pandemic toward physiotherapy demands. We recently published a few documents which are an effect of that revision. I am talking about reports on the use of telerehabilitation in the world; the impact of the pandemic on the global physiotherapy market; opinions on the training of future staff, and currently on the psychological impact on the front-line PT workers. For KIF, I think the most important thing is that we appreciated you when handing over the representation of World Physiotherapy during meetings of the WHO FIC group. There are very few countries that gained such credit of trust from our Board within the first year of membership.
As you mentioned earlier, we know how to take advantage of the opportunities that the international partnership has opened up for us :).
Yes and you should be proud of yourselves. Congratulations to your members and Maciek Krawczyk. This term of office is your great international win!
Thank you for your time. Now, let’s go back to our daily duties :).
Dalia Woźnica, PT, PhD
The Polish Chamber of Physiotherapists