Clinical Specialty Area: Oncology

Years in specialty practice area: 11

Areas of interest: 60% of workload in hematology/oncology ward and 40% teaching, mentoring, and committee work mostly focused on oncology.

Hobbies: I enjoy playing volleyball and basketball, but I need a good physiotherapist to help with knee pain. As a physiotherapist working in oncology, I know that the knee is somewhere between the hip and ankle but treating it is beyond my current abilities! 

What did you find most rewarding about the program?

Oren explains that going through the specialization process enhanced his capacity to better communicate clinical reflections. He suggested that most of us are not aware of our professional accomplishments until they’re in front of us. This opportunity to ‘take stock’ of his accomplishments was rewarding, humbling, and re-affirming – an amazing process for Oren to have experienced.

Many potential program applicants want to know, ‘How will the specialization designation change my practice?’. Oren explains that being a specialist has not changed his day-to-day practice, but it has changed his engagement beyond the “bedside”. Specifically, he has been involved in more presentations to health care providers, patient support groups and other health groups. The Clinical Specialty Program is a rigorous process to demonstrate and celebrate what a physiotherapist who is specializing is already doing.

Where do you hope to see the profession in 25 years

I think we need more physiotherapists working in oncology and taking on the challenges of working in oncology for the long run. As Cancer Care Ontario will soon issue exercise guidelines for people with cancer, Oren observes that physiotherapists need to be ready and knowledgeable about how to work with this population so they can become leaders in caring for cancer survivors.

What is the value of the specialty program

Oren says he enjoyed the process and enjoyed improving his self-reflection skills; in fact, now he helps others to improve their self-reflection skills. The program is described as rigorous and candidates must meet four program requirements to receive the specialist designation: advanced clinical competence, professional leadership, professional development activities, and involvement in research activities. One of the challenges identified by some applicants to the Clinical Specialty Program is the volume of paperwork that must be submitted, including the Stage I Candidate Portfolio documents and the three Case Based Discussions in Stage II, but as Oren points out:

“The Clinical Specialization process is worth the work for both personal and professional growth.”

What is the future of the clinical specialization program in Oncology?

“I’m seeing a growing interest from physiotherapy students who are asking about the process to become clinical specialists in Oncology. I believe students are looking for methods to make them stand out compared to other physiotherapy students and specialization allows the more driven therapists to further challenge their practice.”