Approving a third physiotherapy school at Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) will help meet the country’s growing population and health needs, says the Physiotherapy Board.

The board has just approved Wintec to deliver physiotherapy and accredit the degree qualifications of Bachelor of Physiotherapy and Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) bringing the number of physiotherapy schools up to three.

Janice Mueller, the board chair said the new school’s accreditation process included the Australian Physiotherapy Council which was involved with the accreditation of all Australasian programmes and consultation with registered physiotherapists.

“As New Zealand’s population and health needs grow the need for our profession also increases, having a third school of physiotherapy helps deliver to that need,” said Mueller.

Wintec acting chief executive David Christiansen said the new programmes were developed to meet the needs of the region. “There’s no doubt about the need for a third physiotherapy school in New Zealand and for this to be located in the region.”

The professional organisation Physiotherapy New Zealand has been supportive of an extra school to help ease the national shortage of physiotherapists – particularly in rural areas.

Wintec says the proposed degree hopes to increase the number of Māori and Pacific physios and is offering a blended programme to support students, like second chance students, who may wish to study closer to home particularly across the five district health boards that make up the Midlands region – Waikato, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and Taranaki DHBs.

Dunedin was the first home of physiotherapy with the University of Otago opening a School of Massage in 1913 which evolved into the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy that opened in 1946. The Auckland School of Physiotherapy – the predecessor of the current AUT school – opened in 1972.

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