Gail Kirkwood

Clinical Specialty Area: Paediatrics

Years of Graduation: 1983

Areas of interest: Rehabilitation of youth post stroke, inflammatory brain disease and brain cancer, outcome measurement development, constraint induced movement therapy and student education.

Hobbies: Good Canadian winter activities: curling and cross country skiing!  Summer activities: cycling, hiking, reading and travel.

What did you find most rewarding about the program?

The case based discussions along with the clinical reflections were the most valuable parts of the program for me and they encouraged me to re-examine how I practice, particularly in terms of assessment, evaluation and intervention where evidence-based practice was slim. 

The process of writing and discussing the cases and the reflections, afforded me time to analyze how I practice, what could be improved, what competencies were being demonstrated in a way that as a busy clinician, there isn’t the opportunity to do on a daily basis. Since cases were evaluated by an assessor outside of my speciality area, as well as two assessors within the specialty area, it is necessary to write and discuss the cases in a concise format and focus on the core findings, goals, interventions and thinking, thus demonstrating the key competencies.

The interview panel was exciting (if a little scary initially!) and the questions posed were great learning opportunities to discuss certain findings/thought processes in depth.

The written feedback from all stages of the program was invaluable, but particularly the feedback from the case-based discussion and the clinical reflections and I appreciated the honesty and the time commitment from the other physiotherapists in reviewing the documents at different stages of the process.

How will the clinical specialty program impact physiotherapy as a profession?

I think that speciality certification is important and I would like to see a role for it in paediatric physiotherapy in the future.  Advanced practice roles exist in some organizations and this may be a starting point for physiotherapists with speciality credentials. As for the private sector in paediatrics, families often seek out therapists who specialize in particular treatment techniques and I think there would be a need for promotion of the program in order for families and clients to see the benefits of the credentials. 

What were your reasons for applying to the program?

Initially, I was intrigued by CPA’s process of developing a specialization program and I was excited by the opportunity to become an assessor. I thought it would be a unique learning opportunity to liaise with physiotherapists in other speciality areas and to share our experiences of going through the specialization process together. The program did all this and much more! The clinical reflections and the case-based discussions were wonderful learning opportunities with respect to both my submissions and with reviewing my colleague’s submissions and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this exciting initiative. It was a personal challenge and a unique opportunity for in-depth reflection of my practice as well as the ability to demonstrate this to a panel during the interview process.

Have you used your specialist network?

Having a national network of paediatric clinical specialists to share knowledge and ideas with, will strengthen clinicians and assist with both practice and research in paediatrics. This will increase mentorship and leadership opportunities for all physiotherapists. Going through the process of specialization will increase reflective practice which in turn benefits clients and families.