May is National Physiotherapy Month. Join us in celebrating the diverse work and exceptional care of the approximately 400 physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants working on the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) team.
For Nafeesa Amlani, Physiotherapist at the Brenda and David McLean Integrated Spine Clinic, National Physiotherapy Month is a time to recognize the various roles physiotherapists are involved in across the healthcare spectrum.
“There are physiotherapists working hard in the intensive care units, across the acute care sites, in rehabilitation and in the community. There are also physiotherapists, like me, who are involved at the beginning of the process and trying to help patients get the appropriate care they need,” said Nafeesa. “I think that this broad scope of practice deserves to be celebrated!”
Physiotherapists use their extensive education and clinical experience to assess, diagnose and treat a broad range of conditions within varied clinical areas. Utilizing their knowledge and expertise, physiotherapists at VCH work with an interdisciplinary team across various practice areas and specialty units. These areas include, but are not limited to, musculoskeletal, neurological, spinal cord injury, cardio-respiratory, gerontology, burns, hand therapy, mental health and chronic disease management.
The physiotherapy leadership team at VCH is unique in that is has both physiotherapy site leaders and dedicated full-time clinical resource therapists who provide our physiotherapists with mentorship, regular education and one on one support to help them expand their skills and achieve their professional goals.
The best part about being a physiotherapist at VCH is “working alongside a great team and the learning opportunities that are offered,” added Paul Mah, physiotherapist at the Brenda and David McLean Integrated Spine Clinic
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused its unique set of challenges for all health-care workers, including physiotherapy staff at VCH.
“We have had to learn how to do assessments and treatments while wearing PPE in the hospital and the community. We have also had to learn how to conduct virtual visits which has been a learning curve,” says Jane Burns, Regional Physiotherapy Practice Lead. “We helped develop practice guideline materials for COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic and I am pleased at how our physiotherapy practice team worked together on this. I’m also especially proud of how our frontline staff at all sites has been able to adapt to the challenges this pandemic has presented.”
For one physiotherapist at VCH, the pandemic was her driving factor in applying to join our team. Samantha Smith, Physiotherapist at Pender Community Health Centre, was working in a private clinic at the onset of the pandemic. “I decided to work in the public sector when private clinics were shut down last March,” says Samantha.
One of the most notable differences in working in public practice versus private practice is that there are more mentorship and structured learning opportunities available. “The public system is really stable and that brings a lot of benefits to a new graduate,” she explains.
Marcela Arango, Physiotherapist Practice Coordinator for the Coastal Community of Care, explains that since the COVID-19 pandemic, every day is different and can be unpredictable. “Constant change means we need to adapt much more quickly than in the past. I am inspired at how the front line physiotherapists work together to support each other, especially during this pandemic, Marcela said. “Initially, everyone was afraid about what was happening but the teams got together and worked through it. They continue working really hard every day, and have adapted and grown skills sets to provide the best care for the patients, while supporting each other.”