Continuing Professional Development

First Contact Musculoskeletal Practice


The details
First Contact Musculoskeletal Practice
30 credits
Level 7
11 October 2021
Colchester Campus



The publication of the 2019 NHS Long Term plan launched a commitment by the government to both expand and fund the expansion of musculoskeletal physiotherapists working in primary care First Contact roles. Early research into the benefits of First Contact musculoskeletal Practitioner roles has shown promising results in terms of high levels of patient satisfaction, decreased primary care costs with less referral for investigations or to secondary care, a decrease in the prescription of medication and high levels of clinician satisfaction too. The majority of patients in these pilot studies have been managed well with self-care advice only early in their journey.

To ensure consistent high levels of care within First Contact MSK roles, Health Education England (HEE) have been working behind the scenes to develop a primary care training pathway for clinicians to work towards Advanced Practice within these roles. A university-based, taught, level 7 First Contact Practice module is a valued part of this pathway.


This module explores the key skills required to achieve competence as a First Contact Musculoskeletal Practitioner. It is suitable for clinicians already working in musculoskeletal (MSK) First Contact Practitioner (FCP) roles within primary care or for those working towards a future MSK FCP role.

This module will enable students to identify their learning needs in relation to the skills required to commence or improve in a First Contact musculoskeletal practitioner role.

The taught content and assessment strategies will provide tools for students to address and meet these learning needs in line with the ‘Musculoskeletal Core Capabilities Framework for First Point of Contact Practitioners’.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced level of patient assessment, clinical reasoning and decision making relevant to a musculoskeletal first contact role, including choice of appropriate investigations, treatment, care planning (including onward referral as appropriate).
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the role and application of the wider determinants of health within a musculoskeletal first contact role, including return to work, health promotion, prevention & lifestyle interventions, social prescribing, self-management and behaviour change.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on your personal professional, developmental and educational needs in relation to embarking on or fulfilling a musculoskeletal first contact role.
  • Demonstrate an advanced level of communication and person-centred care relevant to a musculoskeletal first contact role.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate the role of evidence based practice and service development within a musculoskeletal first contact role, including approaches to service design, planning, and measurement of value and impact within primary care.

Our expert staff

The lead tutors for this module are Caroline Kerry and Dr Sue Innes.

Other external tutors including a rheumatologist and clinicians working in First Contact Roles.

Entry Requirements

It is expected that enrolling clinicians will already have clinical expertise in the field of musculoskeletal health and regular exposure to a musculoskeletal patient caseload. Applicants should have a relevant first degree OR a relevant professional experience or qualifications that demonstrates ability to study at Level 7, as well as: - A minimum of 1 year post-registration experience. - Current Registration with the relevant UK or equivalent professional body.


Module Outline

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

The module will commence with four weeks of online learning via Moodle, including discussion forums which students will be expected to contribute to.

Taught sessions online and face to face (including lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies, group work and peer discussion) will cover topics including:

  • Person-centred approaches to care.
  • Assessment, investigation and diagnosis.
  • Condition management, interventions and prevention.
  • Service and professional development.

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module consists of two components: 1. Portfolio (70% weighting). Content of the portfolio will be based on a student’s Personal Development Plan and should meet module outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. 2. Oral Presentation of a single case study (30% weighting) meeting module outcomes 1 and 2.

Fees and funding

Information about our individual module fees can be downloaded here (.PDF). In the first instance approach your Education Liaison Manager to see if funding can be secured via the organisation you are working for.

What's next

To apply for an individual module please complete the application form (.PDF) and email to for the attention of Hayley Milburn.

Get in touch

If you have any queries about our SRES CPD modules please email our MSK team