Physiotherapy: a truly international career

Studying physiotherapy in New Zealand is the perfect way to start a career that lets you travel all over the world to help people affected by health problems, injury or disability, says Ailsa Cornell of Physiotherapy New Zealand.

Physiotherapists make a big difference in people’s lives. Physiotherapists help people move and participate in life and in their communities, especially when their ability to move and carry out the tasks of daily life are threatened by ageing, injury, disability or disease. They promote health, prevent and treat injuries and provide rehabilitation after injury or disability.

The physiotherapist assesses a patient’s potential for movement and function; establishes treatment goals (together with the patient, family and caregivers) designed to restore or develop that potential and to maintain it; provides a rehabilitation programme; and educates the patient in self care. Physiotherapists work in a wide variety of settings.

Why physiotherapy is 'truly international'Physiotherapists (called 'physical therapists' in some countries) are in demand all over the world.

They are going to become more and more important in fighting 'lifestyle diseases' (such as heart and lung problems, Type 2 diabetes and obesity) which are a growing public health problem in all countries.

What New Zealand can offer international physiotherapy studentsThroughout the world, New Zealand physiotherapists and physiotherapy qualifications are highly respected. New Zealand has produced some of the most famous physiotherapists and most widely used physiotherapy methods in the world.

There are two New Zealand universities which have Schools of Physiotherapy: AUT University in Auckland and the University of Otago in Dunedin. Both schools welcome applications from international students for their four-year degree programmes. Graduates from both the schools are registered by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand.

International students will enjoy New Zealand’s friendly people, beautiful country, outdoor lifestyle, the many sporting and cultural events and all the fun of a strong student culture.


“International students will enjoy New Zealand’s friendly people, outdoor lifestyle, the many sporting and cultural events and all the fun of a strong student culture”

Opportunities for physiotherapistsIn New Zealand, physiotherapists work in private clinics, in public hospitals and publicly funded community health services, and other settings. Sometimes senior physiotherapists will move into health administration.

Only people registered by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand and holding an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) can practise physiotherapy in New Zealand. To obtain their APCs, physiotherapists have to prove that they are keeping up their knowledge and skills by undertaking continuing professional development.

Physiotherapy New ZealandPhysiotherapy New Zealand is the professional organisation representing physiotherapists. It is a founding member of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT), which started in 1951. Physiotherapy New Zealand is also very active within the Asia Western Pacific Region of WCPT.

We encourage students to join Physiotherapy New Zealand. In the fourth year of study, membership is free.

Find out moreFind a lot more information about physiotherapy and how it is practised in New Zealand on the Physiotherapy New Zealand website.

Read about physiotherapy (physical therapy) around the world on the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) website.

Written by Ailsa Cornell (2010)
Communications Officer
Physiotherapy New Zealand