00 Shoulder Course Main Course Image with Modules

This is a series of five modules covering all aspects of shoulder screening, diagnosis and management.

These courses are designed with the clinician in mind with an emphasis on clinical applicability supported by current, evidence-informed and best practice guidelines. Suitable for any new or recent graduate, or experienced clinician returning to the workforce, or simply wanting to upskill in the diagnosis and management of shoulder pain.

You can enrol in the whole Shoulder Course Series, and online modules and lessons are also available individually. The online courses provide a flexible, convenient, interactive learning environment using a range of written and audiovisual content supported by case studies and clinical reasoning exercises. Optional workshops are available.


Course Aim

To produce practitioners who can:

  1. Accurately screen patients presenting with shoulder girdle symptoms for red flags, and other causes of symptoms that may require additional investigation or treatment in the primary contact setting.
  2. Make an accurate diagnosis of common shoulder conditions using combinations of clinical examination and imaging investigations.
  3. Apply evidence-informed, non-surgical management, including specific physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation for common shoulder conditions and list the criteria for orthopaedic or other medical referral.
  4. Understand common surgical procedures as they relate to post-operative protocols, and apply appropriate post-operative rehabilitation following these procedures.  

Course Content

There are five online modules in this series:

The Shoulder Screening Module

In this course you will learn how to systematically work through a process of excluding other causes of shoulder pain, obtaining appropriate diagnostic imaging, and then classifying shoulder pain into categories that guide management.

  • Red Flags
  • Health Screening
  • Pain and Psychosocial Modifiers
  • Cervical Spine and Neurological Examination
  • Shoulder Imaging
  • Diagnostic Classification of Shoulder Pain

The Stiff Shoulder Module

In this module you will learn how to make an accurate diagnosis of stiff shoulder conditions using clinical examination and diagnostic imaging, and how to apply evidence-based, management for frozen shoulder and glenohumeral osteoarthritis. 

Lessons in this module:

  • Diagnosis of the stiff shoulder
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Glenohumeral osteoarthritis

The Unstable Shoulder Module

In this module you will learn a classification system for traumatic and atraumatic shoulder instability that helps guide management. You will learn to perform an accurate clinical examination, indications for diagnostic imaging, how to apply evidence-based, non-surgical management including physiotherapy rehabilitation for glenohumeral instability, and know who to refer for orthopaedic evaluation. 

Lessons in this module:

  • Classification of shoulder instability
  • Diagnosis of shoulder instability
  • Management of shoulder instability 

The Rotator Cuff Module

This module covers the pathoaetiology, natural history, diagnosis and management of rotator cuff-related conditions. Lessons in this module begin with the diagnosis of subacromial pain and are then divided according to evidence for specific management of rotator cuff related conditions.

Lessons in this module:

  • Diagnosis of subacromial pain
  • Atraumatic, rotator cuff-related pain
  • Traumatic rotator cuff tears
  • Massive/Inoperable rotator cuff tears
  • Calcific tendinopathy

 The Acromioclavicular Joint

This module covers the pathoaetiology, natural history, diagnosis and management of acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular joint conditions.

Lessons in this module:

  • Diagnosis of acromioclavicular joint pain
  • Acromioclavicular joint instability
  • Acromioclavicular joint arthropathy
  • The Sternoclavicular Joint

Learning Content

Each course consists of a series of modules containing learning activities including:

  • Pre-reading articles
  • Audiovisual presentation
  • Quiz
  • Online forums
  • Ongoing access to closed Facebook groups

A manual is provided for each module that includes copies of slide presentations, references and additional learning resources.

Social Learning

Online Forum

Online forums are available to anyone who completes any of the full modules in the Shoulder Course Series. The purpose of the informal online forums is to ask any questions about the online learning material and to discuss patient cases. A link to the forum will be sent to all those eligible closer to the time. See the SMS website for online forum dates.

Facebook Group

Those who complete any of the full modules in this course are invited to join the corresponding Facebook Group upon completion of the course. Membership to this Group is indefinite. This Group contains social learning units where latest research and updates are organised by topics that align with the modules in this course. You can check off the items you complete and use this for CPD purposes.

Continuing Education Certificates

After completion of each Course (or lesson/module if you are enrolled individually), you will receive a Certificate.

Before you begin

It is recommended you follow SMS on Twitter or Facebook, or check the SMS website to receive notifications of new lessons, updates and clinical resources related to the Shoulder Course Series.

For More Information

If you would like more information about the Shoulder Course Series please visit