Clinical Specialty Area: Oncology

Years in Practice in Specialty Area: 17

Areas of Interest: The rehabilitation of pediatric patients with rotationplasty as well as other joint reconstructions, and the short and long term effects of vincristine (a chemotherapy drug).

Hobbies: power walking ½ marathons (I lead a training group); Pilates; gardening

What did you find most rewarding about the specialty program? 

I enjoyed the whole process. Sitting down to draft the clinical reasoning behind the cases I chose to present made me reflect on different aspects of the cases with a different lens on. Oral presentation is always a challenge for me, so preparing for the ‘case discussion’ really helped my organization and confidence. The process of applying reinforced to me that I have a strong knowledge base in this area of practice.

What were your reasons for applying to the program? 

I was asked to apply and additionally to become an assessor during the program’s initial stages. I was really honored to be asked (especially when I saw the others in the room) and delighted to see how inclusive the process is.

Where do you hope to see the profession in 25 years? 

My hope for the future of physical therapy is that physiotherapists have a greater understanding of the complexity of care required for cancer survivors; and a better understanding of how to provide care to maximize survivor quality of life. 

What impact do you think specialization will have on your specialty area?

It will enhance knowledge through mentorship, sharing resources, and collaborative learning between divisions.

What is the value of the specialty program to candidates?

A physical therapist being identified through a national organization gives support to clients who want specialized care. It also enables the specialist to network at a broader level nationally.

Have you used your specialist network and if so how? 

I have been able to network across Canada with other physical therapists working in cancer care. More recently, I have been able to network with the orthopedic division to provide information to their members on pediatric presentation of cancer. 

What are important things to consider for those who are interested in pursuing their clinical specialty?

If you graduated a while ago, it is useful to review some clinical reasoning frameworks (to find one that will work for you) and the ICF to update your own knowledge as this will be helpful for your case presentation. Carefully choose your cases to highlight different aspects of care and your knowledge (sometimes, cases are too similar and so required competencies are missed). As well, keeping your course certificates in one place (once you have found them!) will help speed the process up for your initial application.

What new skills or enhanced skills did you obtain going through the specialty process?

The process forces you to present written materials very succinctly. I really gained some confidence in my presentation skills and ability to ‘think on my feet’ with the case discussion. I spent a fair amount of time preparing for the case discussion and was surprised at how smoothly it went. 

What advice would you give to applicants going through the specialty process?

Do it! It is as challenging as it is rewarding!

What impact has the specialization designation had on you and your career? 

The specialization program has spurred me on to present at conferences, write journal articles, and to be part of a research team in an area of interest.