Clinical specialty area: Pain Science

Years in specialty practice area: 13 years

Areas of professional interest: pediatric pain; Complex Regional Pain Syndrome; pain and global health

What did you find most rewarding about the specialty program?

The Clinical Specialization Program offered me the opportunity for a rigorous peer evaluation relative to the nine competencies of a clinical specialist which stimulated deep clinical introspection. On a go forward, the process has provided a structure through which I can reflect on my career development and identify further areas for growth which has proved invaluable as I continue to develop as a clinician.

What were your reasons for applying to the program? 

I was at a point in my career development where I felt that I needed deeper professional development and growth beyond that of the traditional continuing education route. Additionally, the Clinical Specialization Program provided me the opportunity for formal professional recognition in my specialty area which had not existed prior to the initiation of the program.

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

Through the lens of my specialty, I hope to see Physiotherapy as the provider of choice for non surgical and non pharmacological intervention related to pain management. On a broader scale, I am hopeful that our profession can leverage the Clinical Specialization Program to position Physiotherapy in a leadership capacity to actively contribute to the ongoing development of sustainable health care in Canada.

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

The Clinical Specialization Program has provided an opportunity for formal recognition of pain science and the advanced clinical skills of Physiotherapists working with patients who experience pain. Specialization will drive innovative, evidenced based practice in pain management resulting in high quality care for those we serve.

What is the value of the specialty program to candidates? 

The value of the Clinical Specialization Program to candidates is the formal opportunity for rigorous peer evaluation and the deep self reflection embedded in the process. The speciality program requires candidates to defend their clinical reasoning and clinical decision making which challenges well established clinical orthodoxies and results in an unmatched opportunity for professional growth.

The Clinical Specialization Program has provided me with a network of expert clinicians across speciality areas who I routinely connect with to discuss practice challenges and opportunity.

Have you used your specialist network and if so how? 

The Clinical Specialization Program has provided me with a network of expert clinicians across specialty areas who I routinely connect with to discuss practice challenges and opportunity.

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

The Clinical Specialization Program is rigorous and requires a great deal of humility and a capacity for introspection. Interested candidates should prepare themselves to be challenged and to challenge conventional wisdom, clinical thinking and therapeutic approach. It is in this process however that one grows as a clinician in ways that simply cannot be achieved via traditional continuing education avenues.

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

The Clinical Specialization Program has provided me with the skills to layer my clinical approach with an enhanced capability for self-reflection. My evolution as a reflective practitioner coupled with a focus on the best evidenced care has fostered advanced clinical decision making resulting in better outcomes for the patients and families that I serve. 

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

Be comfortable with the uncertainty in physical medicine and rehabilitation. No one has all the answers. The Clinical Specialization Program is not easy and will require you to challenge well established clinical orthodoxy in your area of practice. It is only in this challenge that significant growth as a clinician occurs. Our profession needs to be challenged and the Clinical Specialization Program is an excellent vehicle to achieve this.

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

The Clinical Specialist designation has provided me a competency framework with which I evaluate my practice and direct my career development. Since achieving the designation, I have had a significant increase in professional opportunities to teach inter-professional health care audiences, to travel internationally to work on global health initiatives related to pain, to conduct research, and to assume leadership roles in our evolving health system.  


Mike is a graduate of the Dalhousie University School of Physiotherapy and the Master of Business Administration program and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His primary clinical interests are Pain Management and Global Health. Mike has broad clinical experience and is the Physiotherapist on the Complex Pain Team and Chief of Physiotherapy at the IWK Health Centre and well as the owner of Think Healthcare. Mike is committed to clinical advancement through mentorship, professional practice consulting, and the delivery of rigorously evidenced based seminars and courses. He has provided post-professional training for Physicians, Nurses, Psychologists, Physiotherapists, and other allied health professionals throughout North America, in Europe, Asia, and South America. He is currently a Clinical Adjunct at the Dalhousie University School of Physiotherapy and a lecturer for the Graduate Certificate in Chronic Pain Management at McGill University. In addition to teaching, Mike is a contributing author to the Oxford Textbook of Pediatric Pain and has assisted in the development of the international pain curriculum for the International Association for the Study of Pain. Mike is the former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists, and a founding member of the Pain Science Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

To keep a healthy work-life balance, Mike spends many hours at his main job as a soccer Dad and parent taxi, exercises daily, and spends time at his family farm with a hoe in hand working the soil.