Learners and Alumni Profiles

Lauren Gavrailoff 2018

MRSc Represents Fulfillment of Personal Goal

Lauren Gavrailoff

Lauren Gavrailoff is an Athletic Therapist with a passion for learning. She made the decision to undertake a Master’s degree because of a personal goal of building on her professional skills.

While completing her master’s, Lauren conducted research in collaboration with North American orthopaedic surgeons to develop expert consensus recommendations and protocols for weight bearing and bracing following tibiofemoral articular cartilage surgery.

Lauren graduated with her MRSc in December of 2017. While acknowledging that she had a good foundation for practice from her undergraduate training, Lauren feels the critical thinking and reflection on practice required during the MRSc coursework truly honed her professionalism as a practitioner. “My career has positively benefitted from the MRSc program by becoming a more resourceful employee at my workplace, gaining global exposure through the organization, and enhancing personal and professional skills in research.”

The research that Lauren completed during her MRSc coursework has been submitted to the American Journal of Orthopedics and has been accepted with minor revisions. In addition, her Abstract titled ” Weight-bearing and knee orthoses protocols following cell-based surgeries and structural transplants for tibiofemoral articular cartilage defects: An expert recommendation” has been accepted for a poster presentation by the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) Focus Meeting 2018 – “I am not ready for Metal”, taking place in Milan, Italy from December 13 – December 14, 2018.

Congratulations, Lauren!

Mimi Channa Simon 2018

Course-Based MRSc Facilitates Exploration and Discovery of Diverse Interests

Mimi Simon

After 20 years of OT practice, Mimi decided it was time to update her skills and knowledge to lay the foundation for other career opportunities. She chose to pursue a course-based Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences because she appreciated both the structure that coursework provides and the breadth of learning options that she’d be able to pursue.

As she prepared to graduate, Mimi reflected on the best part of pursuing her MRSc: “I discovered topics of keen personal and professional interest: culture and health, health service access and utilization by marginalized groups.” Pursuing a course-based Masters helped Mimi to investigate her diverse interests.

Mimi has found that her coursework has already changed both her own practice and the services offered by her workplace program. For instance, her assignment for RHSC 509: Facilitating Learning in Rehabilitation Contexts explored a gap in her OT department’s education sessions for caregivers. The work that she completed for this course became the basis for the development of a dressing skills workshop that is now included in the department’s regularly scheduled education sessions. An assignment from another course “increased my understanding of client demographics and needs in the region I serve, whereby I initiated community-based group services from our regional team. Now our regional team regularly offers community-based group services with positive client feedback.”

Mimi has found that her coursework-based MRSc program has made her a better clinician with improved reflexivity. Thanks to her hard work during her studies, Mimi has developed improved skills for critiquing evidence and evaluating assessments, which better informs her practice decisions. Mimi writes, “I feel more confident and better prepared for new opportunities. I have furthered my program planning, implementation, and evaluation skills. And, I have improved understanding of various stakeholder perspectives and have an enhanced big-picture view of services at the clinical, program, agency, professional organization and funder level.”


Darrel Hagel 2018

MRSc student course and research work shapes cardiac rehabilitation care in the BC Okanagan

Darrel Hagel

Darrel Hagel started the MRSc degree program to gain the skills needed to improve patient care and push for program growth, and he has done just that.

During his MRSc course work Darrel became interested in ‘Group Medical Visits’ (GMV’s) as a service delivery model to better support people with chronic health conditions. He conducted literature searches on the topic and shared the findings with his cardiologist colleagues. Together they developed and started running multi-disciplinary group medical visits to provide post-discharge follow-up care to patients in the local Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.

Darrel’s course work in RHSC 503: Reasoning and Decision Making proved to be pivotal in shifting his conceptualization of physiotherapy practice and how he involved and engaged patients. In planning his MRSc Major Project, he decided that before evaluating the effectiveness of the GMV program from a quantitative perspective he first “needed to make sure the GMV’s were meeting patient needs and expectations”. Supported by his project supervisor, Dr Pat Camp from the UBC Department of Physical Therapy, Darrel used qualitative research methods to investigate patient experiences following a GMV to support post cardiac rehabilitation. The participants in the study described enhanced participant engagement, peer support, self-care and physician engagement. Participants viewed GMVs positively as a tool to provide the ongoing support they wanted, but they also had suggestions for improvement. These research findings will help further establish and improve this program in his health region.

Darrel now looks forward to new opportunities a Master’s degree can bring, such as teaching at the college level and pursuing management level positions.

“Along with the satisfaction of knowing I was able to impart real and significant change in both how I practice and how the programs I am involved with function I was able to gain a great deal of practical skills that have made a difference in the programs I am involved with”.


Ivonne Montgomery 2017

MRSc Major Project empowers children to ‘Print Like A Pro!’

Ivonne Montgomery


After hearing about the MRSc program over the years from her colleagues at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, MRSc 2017 graduate Ivonne Montgomery decided to enroll to further develop her evidence-based practice and research skills, with a focus on handwriting challenges in school-aged children. Frustrated with the lack of accessible tools for children with handwriting challenges, Ivonne had co-created a user-friendly, free to download, easily accessible program called Printing Like a Pro! She then used her passion for research to evaluate the effectiveness of this program through her MRSc Major Project: Applying Printing Like a Pro! in a School-based Printing Club: A Pilot Study. With advice from her supervisor Dr. Jill Zwicker, Ivonne successfully completed this study, providing the first empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of Printing Like a Pro!. Dissemination of research findings will help to spread the word and empower therapists, educators and parents to utilize this program to help those children who struggle with handwriting.

In terms of the MRSc program itself, Ivonne feels that her workplace at Sunny Hill benefits from her enhanced evidence-based practice, research and knowledge translation skills. She values the fact that the Major Project allowed her to learn how to successfully carry out research. Ivonne expressed that she “[feels] like [she has] the research skills [after the MRSc Program]” to conduct further research and has many ideas for future research projects.

When asked what advice she would give to those considering online graduate studies, Ivonne says that one should “go for it! It is time and energy well spent; for our profession, it is beneficial. It is so personalized to your interests.” She notes the supportive aspect of the program and the various excellent networking opportunities that also arose throughout the program.

Deb Watterworth 2016

MRSc alumni creates her next career opportunity

Debra Watterworth

Few MRSc learners and alumni have the opportunity to personally shape what their workplace position will look like after graduation, but Deb Watterworth did just that!

At the start of her MRSc, Deb was working in a management position for the Canadian Mental Health Association where she supervised crisis response teams, mental health and justice programs, and central intake. She initially felt nervous as entering the MRSc program symbolized a return to school after many years.

That was then. Today, Deb sees significant changes in herself both personally and professionally. She gained confidence and credibility through her academic contributions and voice. During her MRSc, Deb completed a directed study, Recovery Practices: Opportunities for Acute Mental Health: A Literature Review. Combined with information about her clinical program, Deb presented this work at the 2016 Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada Conference. Learning to utilize research has allowed Deb to provide support for new approaches and ideas, and negotiate ways to incorporate these into practice.

Despite taking a leave of absence for health reasons part way through her MRSc, Deb returned to complete her independent study course successfully. She expresses that she never felt alone or isolated as the MRSc program is “a community as well.”

As a direct result of her directed study, Deb now holds a position that didn’t exist before at her workplace; she is a mental health rehabilitation specialist in an inpatient unit, and is assisting in the transition of the unit to recovery-oriented care. Her role is to educate patients and assist with self-management, through a holistic approach. Deb’s immense drive not only gave her the position of her dreams, but helped her accomplish the dream of completing her Master’s.

Deb notes that, “The most significant change is the increased confidence I have to contribute to the field of mental health at the broader level. I now have the academic credibility to share my ideas. My education has given me a voice.”


Louise Donnellan 2017

How do OTs and OTAs collaborate?

Louise Donnellan

Occupational therapist Louise Donnellan spent the last year seeking answers for this question, interviewing and shadowing clinicians in a study based in ethnographic principles. What she learned changed her views and approach, has highlighted staff education needs and will inform how tasks are delegated and communicated at her workplace.

Louise completed this Major Project work as an MRSc student in the Rehabilitation Sciences Online Program. She began studies in the Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation, building her confidence that combining full time work in acute care and graduate studies was achievable, before transferring to the full MRSc. Along the way she asked lots of questions and received support from her manager, an MRSc graduate herself.

Throughout the program Louise addressed previous assumptions about clinical practice from a critical point of view. Louise states that, “From evidence based oriented courses I began to question things and put some clinical practice assumptions to test. Now I am well equipped with tools needed to answer my curiosity about current practice”.

As, Louise looks forward to graduation this spring she reports the program has opened doors at work; she is taking leadership roles and covering more projects as a result of the program. Look for an abstract of Louise’s research and her Research Relay presentation this fall.


Carmen Reed 2017

Online MRSc Program attracts learners from around the world

Carmen Reed

Meet MRSc student Carmen Reed, a physiotherapist and owner and director of a multidisciplinary practice in South Africa, who is implementing and developing new programs based on her MRSc coursework.

How did you learn about the online MRSc Program?

I knew that I wanted to study further, but none of the South African post-graduate programs appealed to me. I spent some time researching available online Masters programs and was very impressed by what I found on offer at UBC.

How will you / are you applying what you have learned from your MRSc to your clinical work?
This for me is what is making this MRSC truly valuable! Since starting the program, I have been able to implement a new Falls Prevention education program, with the potential to reach a large proportion of my surrounding community. I have also changed and increased the use of outcome measures in my practice, led education sessions for my colleagues, designed an 8 week cost efficient program for a lower socioeconomic area that our practice serves, and have grown in confidence and strategic knowledge in terms of leading my team, being a team member and being a rehabilitation practice owner (and I’m only just over half way through the program!).

How is learning online as an international student?

My experience is very positive. The online support and learning from peers is very rewarding. Although the Canadian health system is very different to South Africa, this has in no way interfered with my learning – in fact, having different perspectives has been an enlightening experience. Logistically, the 10 hour time zone advantage has not impacted my ability to participate in discussions, and although the occasional webinar occurs while I’m in dream land, I have been easily able to catch up on those.

Being so far away has meant that I need to be organised. The 10 week wait for textbooks cuts it very fine at the start of the program, but ordering them all at once has minimised shipping costs and stress. Paying student fees also takes planning, especially with the exchange rate and my bank’s challenges with understanding the payment process.

Having never visited Canada, I look forward to hopefully one day soon being able to see in person the beautiful UBC campus that I see in pictures, and am grateful to my online learning peers for tips about must-see places.


Andrea Wilson Prager 2016

Andrea Wilson Prager balanced work, family and studies while changing the way she practices as a school-based OT

Andrea Wilson Prager

Years of effort paid off for Andrea Wilson Prager in 2016 when she completed her MRSc Major Project research, which explores the implementation of a collaborative model of school-based OT in her British Columbian school district. Her project “Collaborative Occupational Therapy: Teachers’ Impressions of the Partnering for Change Model,” allowed her to examine whether this practice model would be a good fit for teachers before applying the model district-wide. This work transformed the way she works with teachers: relationships are now more of a partnership, and teachers have an enhanced understanding about how to use OT strategies in their classrooms.

Andrea began her MRSc in 2011, after 10 years of practicing as a school-based pediatric OT. She immediately found her practice changing: through her MRSc assignments, she redesigned handout materials and resources, and improved her communication with teachers. Even when assignments didn’t result in definitive end-products, they enabled her to reflect on her practice in-depth.

Maintaining a work-school-life balance was important to Andrea when she began online studies. On top of working full-time, parenting two children and a managing a busy life, Andrea was able to squeeze in time for her MRSc alongside running marathons and keeping up with her book club. She says that the rewards completely outweighed the challenges, even if it meant giving up television. Andrea’s study strategy was to add study time to the end of her work day and, because her assignments related directly to her work, this approach made it easier for her to get them done.

Andrea reports that she has completely changed the way she practices: she spends more time in classrooms responding directly to teachers’ needs, and is amazed by how gratifying it is to work collaboratively alongside teachers. She found the MRSc learning process to be flexible and directly applicable to her work, which allowed for deeper reflection and transformation. Andrea advises learners to take their time completing their Master’s, in order to fully appreciate all it offers.

-By Patricia Mortenson with Andrea Prager Wilson


Karen Hurtubise 2009

MRSc leads to a journey of unforeseen opportunities and to the start of PhD studies

Karen Hurtubise

When Karen Hurtubise started her MRSc, she was a clinical physiotherapist in St John’s, Newfoundland. She held a number of leadership roles in acute care paediatrics and assisted with preventative intervention research, but she found the lack of proper evaluation and effectiveness research frustrating. This is how Karen began her MRSc journey.

Karen used her MRSc assignments to complete projects that she had previously pushed to the side due to time constraints in her daily practice. In particular, she found her Critically Appraised Topic (CAT) assignment (RHSC 501) immediately applicable—it changed not only her own practice, but that of the service provided by her physiotherapy department as a whole. Her MRSc learning provided a strong foundation to search for and evaluate evidence, and to critically reflect on improving her own practice as well as the programs and services at her workplace. Karen says she’s increased both her clinical effectiveness AND her clinical efficiency: she now can evaluate what works and implement changes into her practice, and has stopped using ineffective approaches, while advocating for wider rehabilitation program and service changes.

During her MRSc, Karen and her husband moved from St John’s to Calgary, Alberta, where Karen started working at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Flexible on-line learning meant she could continue her MRSc studies from either end of the country. Within the first nine months in her new position she became a Clinical Lead and, following another nine months, became a Program Coordinator. Later, she became a Unit Manager. Karen used the knowledge that she gained in the MRSc program to flourish in her new positions and to take advantage of unique opportunities, such as a large donation made to the hospital foundation. Karen assisted in creating a successful business plan for the use of the donation, and designed and implemented many new rehabilitation programs. She is currently evaluating the effectiveness of one of these programs as a part of her PhD studies, which she started in 2015 through the University of Sherbrooke.

In addition to her PhD work, Karen now instructs in the MRSc program and contributes to course development. Her MRSc experience gave her the skills and the confidence to succeed in new challenges that she would not have sought out prior to her Master’s degree. Her journey is taking her further than she ever imagined.

By Elliott Cordingley with Karen Hurtubise


Anne Pistawka 2015

MRSc creates possibilities for individual clinicians to facilitate change, advocate for clients and improve practice

Collaborating in a rich, inter-professional learning environment

Anne Pistawka

A health educator and physiotherapist for Central Okanagan Association for Cardiac Health (C.O.A.C.H.) in Kelowna, BC, Anne began her studies with the Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation, facilitating renewal of her study skills after nearly 25 years before starting the MRSc. “It seemed like a perfect fit for me,” she says.

Learning with other health professionals was one of the best parts of the MRSc for Anne: “Directly applying the structured educational activities to their diverse clinical settings provided a rich learning environment that was meaningful and practical. The dialogue, collaboration and sharing stimulated by the course learning activities was unexpected and appreciated. Additionally, the major project planning and implementation was a highlight for me.”

Coursework together with supervisor and workplace sponsor support facilitated Anne’s MRSc research project, Managing cardiovascular risk factors after acute coronary syndrome: Rural perspectives. “The project taught me to be a better listener of client needs and have a deeper understanding of their perspectives. It changed how I look at program planning, development and evaluation of cardiac rehabilitation. As a health educator, I have a deeper understanding of the importance of the needs and perspectives of the audience that I am trying to reach and influence.”

Applying course learning and assignments to practice during her studies benefited Anne’s health education work and included publishing a writing course assignment and receiving two grants for the C.O.A.C.H. program — one for equipment and one for an enhanced program: “Skills developed in the MRSc such as defining practice problems, assessing needs of clients and building a strong rationale led to the successful funding of my (RHSC 507) program proposal, Enhanced Self-Management Program for Better Cardiovascular Health’ which has been running for over two years. It supports clients who are having difficulty self-managing complex chronic health conditions by providing extra 1:1 counseling with a dietician, pharmacist and social worker.” A third equipment grant received after graduation began pilot testing in June 2016 of a live Rural Outreach Videoconferencing Education Program which Anne designed in RHSC 509 to improve cardiac rehabilitation access. She says, “The grant success has been satisfying –it has much to do with writing and reasoning improvements from MRSc courses.”

Reflecting on her MRSc experience Anne states: “I learned that as an individual clinician it is possible to create change, advocate for clients and improve practice by taking systematic steps to plan, propose and collaborate.”

– By Sue Stanton with Anne Pistawka, September 2016


Sarah Sinanan 2014

Sarah reinvented herself as a person and professional and transitioned to a new area of leadership

Sarah Sinanan

Sarah graduated in May 2014 as one of the first MRSc learners to complete the course-based option. The following month she accepted a leadership role as Occupational Therapy Practice Coordinator at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. Sarah didn’t choose the course-based option initially, but ultimately felt that it gave her “the chance to try on new topics and that really worked for me, and made a huge difference to what happened next with work opportunities…”

For 13 years, Sarah was the Program Coordinator of an East Vancouver Arts Studio (a Vancouver Coastal Health community mental health unit), where she planned on conducting her MRSc major project. Her program had been through numerous funding threats and was cut just prior to commencing the project. Although a private donor offered short-term funding, the events created a need for an alternative to the major project, which presented a new opportunity. As Sarah points out “Circumstantially, it worked to focus on discrete courses while everything was going on with the Arts Studio. Keeping the workload in ‘course’ chunks was more manageable while working full time and managing a family. It also gave me the option of moving into a new interest area in leadership”. Sarah took RHSC 583 Applying Research to Practice with a focus on leadership management, followed by a comprehensive literature review on healthcare leadership in times of prolonged uncertainty, completed as a directed study. “It turned out to be a big topic with little literature, particularly on rehabilitation leadership. There was a lot of discussion suggesting that a new form of leader should be available but nobody was saying how to promote this, or the cost of doing so…” Sarah describes looking at resilience and strength-based approaches as she engaged in self-reflection and identifying leadership skills she had been developing and using. Sarah’s work has generated interest from people in upper level management, and she is now planning on submitting her work for publication.

When asked about her new leadership role with GF Strong, Sarah says: “The MRSc should be the training course for this job… the experiences I had led me into this job in a completely different practice area and I landed on the ground running. I could not have gone from a mental health leader into this role without that bridge.” Sarah describes the MRSc as “an extremely personal journey that I could tailor to my professional interests”. Of the course based option, she reflects: “I likely would have chosen it anyway. Going back to school, taking my time, and doing a course based masters allowed me to re-invent myself as a person and professional.”


Karen Barclay 2014

Karen followed her long-term interest in research and changed the way that service is delivered to people referred for bariatric surgery

The Masters of Rehabilitation Science offered flexibility to focus on what was meaningful

Karen Barclay

Karen is currently (May 2014) the acting Manager of the Richmond Community Mental Health Team and Anne Vogel Primary Care Clinic, in Richmond, BC, and has been the Vancouver Coastal Health Practice Coordinator of Occupational Therapy (OT) for Richmond since 2010. Her primary motivation going in to her masters was to develop her research skills. While the MRSc offered development in a broad range of skills and knowledge, she says: “the nice thing was the flexibility that allowed me to make it work for what I needed, which was more of a research focus. It really highlighted skills in how to access evidence that supports practice, and I learned research process, conceptualization, ethics – all of that was new to me”.

Karen spoke to the applicability of the program: “Every time we did a project we tried to apply it at work; the MRSc was applicable in every single course”. The psychosocial program Karen developed during her MRSc has resulted in improved services for clients undergoing bariatric surgery, a procedure to restrict and/or re-route the digestive tract in order to address serious obesity. The program has grown to require two permanent part-time OT positions, and now ensures that people referred for bariatric surgery in Richmond are assessed for mental health concerns, have functional goals set before surgery and are offered group therapy when indicated. Karen’s work addressed what was a major gap identified in both the literature and her workplace. Karen has extended her research of this program beyond her MRSc and the results of the first two years are extremely promising. Surgical clients who participated in the OT-run psychosocial group therapy program reported significantly increased levels of occupational performance and satisfaction, which remained improved at six and twelve months post-group completion. Group participants also experienced improved self-esteem and a reduction in symptoms of depression. Karen’s findings will be presented at the International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) in Yokohama, Japan in June 2014.

When asked about her future, Karen responded: “I think it [the MRSc] has opened my mind to my career potentially taking new directions- there are other possibilities related to research and the applicability of research in the workplace. Research used to feel like something people at UBC did. I was a consumer of the research, I would read a lot, but it still seemed separate. Now I feel it is something I can contribute to”.

– by Theresa McElroy


Carlie Vidal 2014

Carlie Vidal pursued her passion for global health and expanded her skills as a rehabilitation professional

The MRSc broadened knowledge and skill development and opened career opportunities

Carlie Vidal

Carlie is a physiotherapist who has a career in neurorehabiltation and pediatrics and a passion for global health. When a wrist injury temporarily stopped her clinical practice, she went looking for a masters program that would continue her professional development. “I considered doing a masters in global health, but the reason I chose rehab sciences is because an expert in global health advised me to focus on being the best at what I already do. If you are a PT, become a better PT and share that globally. ” With the MRSc, Carlie found she could do both; becoming a better PT with a expanded range of relevant skills, and adapting her learning, assignments and major project to her interest in global health.

Carlie had a lot to share about how her practice, both locally and internationally, developed through doing her masters:

“The quality of my clinical and volunteer work improved because of the masters… There is a lot of information in our field, of course there are still some gaps where we need more, but there is a lot available now that we can access and use to make sure what we do is effective… Throughout the program evidence based practice was always in the forefront of my mind- both for my international and my local clients. I was more critical after doing my masters – in a good way. What we were doing? Were we meeting needs? Making change? Was it measurable? I was aware of this before the masters, but I became more practiced and I had more confidence in evaluating clients and programs, and using effective measurement, in assessing change, conducting program evaluations and implementing programs, professional writing skills and in applying for proposals.”

“The best aspect of the program was the ability to do projects that were of interest. If there was something I wanted to improve at work, I could put in the time to research it, write it up [as a class assignment], and I got great feedback. I then took it back to work and implemented it.” Carlie applied what she learned in RHSC 509 Facilitating Learning in Rehabilitation Context during a 6-month volunteer position in Haiti half way through her MRSc. “My position in Haiti as a teacher in a rehabilitation program opened to me because of doing the masters and the confidence I had because of what I learned… I taught a course for Rehabilitation Assistants. I pulled from various courses around Canada, created and taught one for our Haitian students. I had a lot more skills in terms of teaching in rehabilitation that I didn’t have before the MRSc”. When Carlie returned to her studies, she wrote a magazine article about her experience for RHSC 581 Writing to Enhance practice, which she is planning on submitting for publication.

When asked why other physiotherapists should consider the program, Carlie had this to say: “For PTs it expands our horizons. We tend to be great at what we do with our hands and many are good at evidence based practice, but I now have teaching, writing, research skills as well, and this just allows me to do so many more things and improve the quality of my clinical work.” – By Theresa McElroy


Jan Chan 2014

Clinical Dietetics Practice Leader developed her leadership skills while balancing a rewarding family life and full-time work.

Master of Rehabilitation Science provides the skills and knowledge for health leadership and collaboration

Jan Chan

After completing her dietetics degree, Jan knew she wanted to pursue a Masters in a broader area of study. “I looked at a number of programs such as adult education, but when someone showed me the MRSc website it just clicked – the course content, requirements, timing, flexibility, online format and the ability to continue to work full time – everything was up my alley. I had a new mortgage and a Masters wasn’t in the cards if I had to quit working.” Like many fellow learners, Jan had a child. “The program was manageable – it didn’t consume me – I had time for my family. The MRSc offered the perfect balance between work and lifestyle.”

Initially, Jan was a little apprehensive about starting a degree in ‘rehabilitation science’; however, that feeling did not last long. She says, “I realized that nutrition is a critical focus in rehabilitation, that my professional perspective contributed to this field of study and was valued by my fellow learners”. An unexpected outcome for Jan was the understanding she acquired about the roles of other rehabilitation professionals; something she feels made her a better practitioner. She also describes the major impact of the MRSc on her skills and appreciation for research and the use of evidence in practice. Her major project, a pilot on protected meal times, led to practice changes impacting the health and quality of life of patients, and is now being expanded into an application for a multi – site study.

A critical aspect of the MRSc for Jan was the applicability to her development as a leader. Six months prior to starting her degree, she accepted a temporary practice leader position. “All of the (MRSc) topics were areas I was trying to work through as a new practice leader; for instance program development and evaluation were key for beginning to develop funding proposals for our wards.” While completing her degree, Jan earned her permanent position as a Practice Leader at Burnaby Hospital. Looking back on her studies, Jan sees how the MRSc helped her garner support from her managers, and become a more competent leader who is playing a role in shaping the development of her profession. – by Theresa McElroy


Jodi Boucher 2013

Pelvic Health Physiotherapist applied her MRSc to addressing the needs of postpartum women

The Masters of Rehabilitation Science offered relevance- through created programs, education materials and research that yielded tangible outcomes.

Jodi Boucher

Jodi works with postpartum women in a multidisciplinary pelvic medicine program in Calgary, Alberta. Since graduating from the University of Alberta physiotherapy program in 1996, she was intent on completing a Masters, but required a program that would allow an essential balance – the ability to fulfill her educational aspirations while working part time in her pelvic health practice and enjoying parenting her 3 young children.

An evidence-based approach to practice has always been important to Jodi. In the MRSc she expanded her skills in searching and applying evidence as well as developing clinically relevant research. She found the program highly applicable and targeted her learning activities to projects that yielded tangible outcomes for her clients and workplace. For instance, over a 5 year period, Jodi developed a postpartum pelvic health initiative and says “many of the necessary pieces required in the development of this program such as developing a program proposal, doing a needs assessment and writing educational materials I learned in the MRSc program”. In the RHSC 509, Facilitating Learning in Rehabilitation Contexts course, Jodi designed a ‘Your Body After Baby’ class that led to a February 2013 interview on Calgary Breakfast Television (minute 3:24). She received the 2013 Physiotherapy Alberta ‘Excellence in Innovation’ award in recognition of her creativity in developing this educational resource. Two further television interviews resulting from Jodi’s MRSc projects were featured on Calgary breakfast television and Global Morning News. In these interviews Jodi explained physiotherapy solutions for stress urinary incontinence, a problem impacting 1 in 3 postpartum women.

With a strong foundation of success Jodi is now looking forward and plans to continue developing her roles as a research clinician and educator.” I love to teach and hope to expand this role in educating both the general public and health care providers,” she says. – by Theresa McElroy\


Anne Marie Bishop 2013

Found the tools to answer many of the clinical practice questions arising in a rural practice.

An Avid Knowledge Translator Thanks to the UBC Master of Rehabilitation Science

Anne Marie Bishop


As an occupational therapist in the rural area of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, since 2007, 33-year-old Anne Marie Bishop was acutely aware of her lack of access to a medical library and journals, something she had enjoyed as an undergraduate student at McGill University. “I found I had many clinical questions and none of the tools to answer them,” she says. That curiosity and a desire to improve her educational credentials attracted her to the Master of Rehabilitation Science (MRSc) program, which she began in 2009 and from which she plans to graduate this spring, 2013.

However, as a new mother of now – 17 month old twin boys, Bishop needed flexibility in order to consider the program. Doubling up on her course load when she started in 2009, she was in the middle of her major project just before giving birth. Needing a delay with her newborn babies, “the flexibility of the instructors made it work,” she says.

Bishop has been able to tailor her project on admission and discharge criteria in dementia care units, involving the Resident Assessment Instrument, to her work environment at the Crowsnest Pass Health Care Centre. “The master’s experience has really helped me to translate knowledge, and to focus on ways to disseminate knowledge,” she says. She has also become an active educator, making several presentations to colleagues on topics such as resources for clinical educators, how to become better prepared for teaching students and how to use statistics in clinical practice.

“The way I approach clinical work has made me feel better placed to communicate to fellow professionals through presentations. Presenting to all of the occupational therapists in the region is not something I would have done before,” she says.

She also enjoyed the opportunity to interact with international students from the U.K., New Zealand and parts of Asia during the program.

Overall, Bishop praises the flexibility of the program. She also says that “it is better than other distance programs because you have to keep up with the online postings. The technology that allows us to do this is amazing.” — By Heather Kent


Claudia Hernandez Riano 2010

Claudia began with one course to help meet Canadian Competency requirements and ended with a master’s.

Master of Rehabilitation Science Connects People From Around the World

Claudia Hernàndez Riaño


Claudia understands educational challenges well. Immigrating to Toronto from Columbia in 1999 to continue her physiotherapy career she spent two years studying for the Canadian Physiotherapy Competency Examination. After passing the written examination she began a residency at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, continuing as a physiotherapist, after the clinical examination.

During her study, she completed 15 credits in course work for the Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Program. Those credits became the stepping stone for her to tackle the Master of Rehabilitation Science (MRSc) program when Program Director Susan Stanton invited her to consider the degree. She began the Master’s in 2006, graduating in 2010.

The master’s experience yielded a multitude of benefits for Claudia, including the confidence to take on the technological requirements for online courses, research skills and their application to clinical practice. She also valued the opportunity to interact with fellow students from all over the world. “You realized that the body of knowledge connects all of us. It was fascinating to learn about the similarities and differences in physiotherapy practice in Denmark, Columbia and Canada.”

Claudia particularly enjoyed the Facilitating Learning in Rehabilitation Contexts, Evidence for Practice, Developing Effective Rehabilitation Programs and Writing to Enhance Practice courses. “The content of each course was excellent and each facilitator was an expert in their area. I was able to use almost everything I learned,” she says. Communicating effectively about a patient’s condition is an important part of her work at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Claudia feels that her skills have improved in that area.

Knowledge transfer and research were also her favourite subjects. “Now I feel confident doing and understanding research and providing useful recommendations to improve practice,” Claudia says. Her research project, Stop Adverse Fall Events (SAFE) initiative, was the best example of how she directly applied learning to practice at her workplace, she says. — by Heather Kent


Glen Cashman 2013

Team chiropractor for the Vancouver Canucks loves clinical life and now has enhanced research and educator skills.

Master of Rehabilitation Science Focuses on Application to Practice

Glenn Cashman

For chiropractor Dr. Glenn Cashman, juggling the Master of Rehabilitation Science (MRSc) program along with his Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences Fellowship program, his business and family life has made for “a pretty crazy few years,” he says. Not to mention the 10 hours per week he spends at the rink as Team Chiropractor for both the Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver Giants hockey teams. Still, the energetic, 42-year-old father of two says that he is “genuinely enjoying all of it; I have all of these shiny balls in the air and I don’t want to drop any of them. I am really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.”

Those accomplishments will include graduating from the Master’s program – which he began in 2009 – in 2013, along with the completion of his chiropractic fellowship. Cashman was attracted to the MRSc as a way to fulfill some of the course and original research requirements for his Fellowship. He also saw the opportunity for recognition and applicability in other settings, if he ever had to discontinue his clinical career.

Cashman says that knowledge transfer is at the heart of the Master’s program.” Most of the courses have been pretty applicable, not simply hoarding of knowledge. There was always this eye to application and I really appreciate that.”

He valued the opportunity for multidisciplinary learning, both to improve his knowledge of other rehabilitation professions and for those practitioners to learn about chiropractic. Cashman says his research and educator skills have definitely been enhanced by his experience in the program. He has already published and says he is much more likely to write for professional publications now. He also values his rapid access to full articles through Pub Med. “I look to literature much more than I used to,” and believes that his patients benefit as a result. Another benefit is bridge-building with other rehabilitation professionals through seeking solutions to less common clinical problems.

“I really love clinical life,” remarks Glen. And informing researchers about things that are more relevant to the clinical world is an important part of that life. — by Heather Kent


Janice Duivestein 2010

Sunny hill occupational therapist re-set her view of practice while gaining new program management skills.

Online Delivery of the Master of Rehabilitation Science Proved a Good Fit

Janice Duivestein

J Duivestein photo

Janice Duivestein had worked as an occupational therapist at Vancouver’s Sunny Hill Health Centre since 1986. Twenty years later she took a large leap in her career by beginning the Master of Rehabilitation Science (MRSc) and combining that challenge with a new position as Neuromotor Program Manager. They proved to be a productive complement. “I was feeling that there were areas I needed to improve on. The online feature was clearly a good fit for me and the very practical courses held a lot of appeal,” says the 52-year-old.

The degree experience “resets how you look at things. The whole learning process opens your eyes more broadly,” she says. As a result, she achieved a far higher comfort zone in looking for evidence to apply as a program manager. “You have to consider all of the services and look at the broader picture of the patient population and how to use evidence from the literature.” The course on program evaluation and development yielded immediate benefits in her workplace.

Despite the lack of face-to-face contact, Janice says she enjoyed her online interaction with colleagues from other disciplines, and has since met some in person.

Janice says the confidence she gained from the Master’s program has definitely influenced the way she practices now.  Supporting newer clinicians, such as occupational therapists and speech pathologists at Sunny Hill is an important part of her job, and she has improved those skills. “Collaboration for the greater good,” is a very satisfying part of her role, she says.

She has also participated in new clinical initiatives such as developing best practices guidelines to prevent hip subluxation in cerebral palsy patients.

Janice has lots of ideas for moving forward, including possibly taking on more teaching, in addition to her current role of Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at UBC.

“The program was incredibly valuable with a very practical focus — an immediacy — you could actually get on and do it. I am very comfortable with my decision to go that route,” she concludes. — by Heather Kent


Jill Hooper 2013

A civilian physiotherapist for the Canadian Forces Jill pursued her master’s to stay competitive and improve her skill set.

Master of Rehabilitation Science Supports a More Critical Eye for the What and Why of Practice

Jill Hooper

J Hooper photo

As the wife of a naval officer, Jill Hooper is accustomed to changing locations. A civilian physiotherapist employed by the Department of National Defence (DND) since 2005, the 34-year-old has worked on Canadian Forces bases in Kingston and Halifax. When she moved to San Diego in 2011 with her now six-year-old son and her husband following his latest posting, the distance learning offered by the University of British Columbia Master of Rehabilitation Science (MRSc) program allowed her to continue the degree, while on leave from the DND. She will graduate in the spring of 2013.

“I was very interested in pursuing my education for the satisfaction of completing a Master’s degree, to remain competitive and marketable and to increase my skill set within the physiotherapy world as the profession moves from a bachelor’s degree to a Master’s,” she recalled.

The predominance of relevant courses added to the appeal. “I found that the courses really helped you to take the literature and the evidence and apply it to your clinical setting. Almost all of us were working full-time and almost every assignment could be applied back to the working environment. All of the courses made sense; with things like program development you identified a need in your workplace and helped to develop something that would be beneficial. And simply being able to understand the literature better was very useful and eye-opening for me,” she said.

Jill became a more scholarly practitioner as a result. The Master’s experience “renewed my inclination to go back to the literature and provided me with the opportunity to really identify which parts of the literature I can apply directly to my practice. It has helped me look more critically at what I do and why.” That in turn increased her confidence in decision-making and advocacy in her workplace.

She also valued the “outstanding” collaborative experience with colleagues in the program from all over the world. — by Heather Kent