Maggie McIlwaine

Clinical specialty area: Cardiorespiratory

Years in specialty practice area: 41

Areas of Professional interest: Airway clearance, chronic respiratory conditions

What were your reasons for applying to the program?

For people who want to continue to have a clinical focus rather than an academic one, I believe this is a great opportunity to give recognition to the expertise developed in area of work you are practicing in. Many Physiotherapists are practicing at an advanced level, yet because they do not have the have the degrees after their name, they have not been recognized for their work. In addition, the designation as a Clinical Specialist assists other Physiotherapists in recognizing that you are an expert in a specific field and someone they may contact for advice and mentoring.

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

I would love us to have Physical Therapists working with an advanced practice designation such as a Physical Therapist Practitioner or such like with an expanded scope of practice.

... the designation as a Clinical Specialist assists other Physiotherapists in recognizing that you are an expert in a specific field and someone they may contact for advice and mentoring.

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

At present, I cannot use the designation as a “Clinical Specialist” after my name. I am hoping that the BC College of Physical Therapists will soon recognize the designation so that people will be aware of my expertise. However, the process of becoming a Clinical Specialist has changed how I approach my work. I am constantly reflecting on how I have provided care – was it the best care – was it evidence based – what was the rationale for choosing a specific treatment plan, etc.

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

Time commitment; begin by reflecting on some of your past cases and what you could have done differently to improve the outcome. Make sure you are providing evidence based practice.  

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

Time commitment, it will take a year from beginning to end to complete the process. Review the requirements and if you do not think you meet some of the competencies in a certain area, work on those skills, give yourself a deadline to improve in a certain area and then go for it.

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

When I attended the Respiratory Conference, I found the designation of a clinical specialist in cardiorespiratory really helped to profile the role of a Physiotherapist in cardiorespiratory care. I find that some of the work historically performed by a Physiotherapist is now being conducted by other professions such as Nurses, Exercise Physiologists, and Respiratory Therapists. Physiotherapists provide unique skills to address the many facets of cardiorespiratory care that other disciplines cannot offer. Thus, by being a Cardiorespiratory Specialist, it allows us to be leaders in our field to promote cardiorespiratory care while still working collaboratively with other disciplines.

Biography

I graduated from the University of Ulster, in Belfast, N. Ireland in 1976 and began a career in Physiotherapy at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. My practice included working with both Paediatric and adult patients. In 1979 I moved to Newfoundland and took the position as the Senior Physiotherapist in Cardiorespiratory at the Janeway Health Centre in St Johns, working in the ICU, NICU and CF clinic.

In 1981, I moved to Vancouver and began working at Vancouver Hospital and later BC Children’s Hospital. My caseload has included all aspects of cardiorespiratory care both acute and chronic.

In 1985, I applied for my first research grant to study various airway clearance techniques they were using in Europe. This included going to Europe for six months to study the various airway clearance techniques and then conducting a study in Canada to compare the effectiveness of these techniques to ones used in Canada. As a result, I was instrumental in the introduction of various ACTs into both Canada and the USA. Since then I have conducted many research studies, lectured throughout the world and taught numerous airway clearance courses. In 2011 I was the Principal Investigator for a multi-centre across Canada study comparing high frequency chest wall oscillation with positive expiratory pressure, two airway clearance techniques in the treatment of cystic Fibrosis.

In 2013, I was given the opportunity to return to my old Alma Mater at the University of Ulster in Belfast to complete a PhD in published Works. This was completed in 2015.

I am still working as a Clinical Physiotherapist with a strong interest in research. I have also taken on several leadership roles including Chairperson of the International Physiotherapy group for CF and sitting on various committees related to my Profession.  I also sit on the Research Advisory Council for the Cystic Fibrosis Canada.  In addition, I have a private adult cardiorespiratory practice

Hobbies, things that you do outside of work to help maintain family-work balance

I have a strong passion for skiing in the winter and both cycle and garden in the summer. In between, its usually writing or reviewing articles as well as preparing talks.