Maureen Dwight

Clinical specialty area: Musculoskeletal

Years in specialty practice area: 36

Areas of Professional interest: Spinal therapy, particularly chronic and complex presentations as well as developmental related issues such as scoliosis; and the inter-relationship of multi –factorial back pain i.e. rheumatologic, neurologic and orthopaedic.

Hobbies: tennis, photography, writing, cooking

What did you find most rewarding about the Specialty Program?

I found the Clinical Reflection Tool was a particularly interesting process. Reflecting on the moments when my practice changed in a seminal way and looking at what sent my practice in a different direction made me realize that there were some professionals who had more influence on my growth than I had previously considered. This reflection led me to contact these professionals and to thank them for their generosity. It was rewarding to reach out and to acknowledge the part they played in helping me to get to this stage in my career. I also found the preparation for the peer review process challenging. Knowing that you are going to be interviewed by colleagues at the top of their game prompted me to go further in preparing for this part of the process. I spent time focusing on the areas where I believed I was weaker, such as the process for evaluating research. This in-depth work has helped me to continue to grow in the years following the completion of my specialization.  

People not only want to live longer but to live better. Physiotherapy is integral to meeting these expectations and I expect our role in areas such as cancer care, healthy aging and prevention will help meet these needs.

What were your reasons for applying to the program?

I have always believed that physiotherapists should have areas of specialization. In the 30+ years I have been practicing I have seen physiotherapists work hard to develop exceptional levels of expertise and designations however the public and other professionals are largely unaware of these efforts. Throughout my career there has been talk about developing specialties and now that it was finally here I felt it was important to support it. 

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

I think our profession is evolving and that specialization is part of this evolution. Specialization helps to consolidate our own confidence as a profession as well as the confidence of the public/other professionals in the value we add to the health system.  

Provided we are ready to seize the opportunity, I believe that the importance and value of physiotherapy in health care will increase over the next few decades. There is a fundamental change in expectations for quality of life in ageing, disease and/or disability. People not only want to live longer but to live better. Physiotherapy is integral to meeting these expectations and I expect our role in areas such as cancer care, healthy aging and prevention will help meet these needs.

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

I think it will help the public and our colleagues to be aware that there are other options within our profession that can be considered when clients are hitting road-blocks in their recovery. Having participated on several of the examiner panels I was struck by how much these specialty candidates brought to their client’s recovery. In their clinical practice they showed they were able to handle the very complex as well as adding value to the recovery process for what initially appeared to be a simple injury. 

What is the value of the Specialty Program to candidates?

For me it was a moment to reflect and to consolidate. Depending on where the candidate is in their career, it can also help to direct the next steps for their growth.  

By committing to the support of this designation I also see it as a chance for physiotherapists to help to promote our profession’s growth. Once we achieve the right to call ourselves specialists in all provinces, this designation will show the public and other professionals the level of excellence many of us have worked so hard to achieve.  

Have you used your specialist network and if so how?

I have reached out to my specialty network to help to solve issues with some of my particularly complex clients. My clients can have multiple areas of concern and being able to reach out to a clinical specialist in another area such as oncology or neurology allows me to capitalize on these specialists’ extensive backgrounds. It has also helped me to connect with different orthopaedic practices across Canada and helped to leverage the effect I can have on my client’s care.    

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

I think it’s really important to recognize that there is not a single direction that will take you to your specialty. One of the primary elements supporting this designation is the demonstration of a cohesive thought process that binds all of the clinical elements together. It’s not just what you know, or what you have done, it’s how you apply it.  

What new skills or enhanced skills did you obtain going through the specialty process?

My path to specialization was an indirect journey but going through this process has helped me to understand my next directions for growth and how I can mentor other professionals to find their own path.  

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

It is important to look at the areas that are being evaluated and review your skills in relation to each of these areas but don’t be intimidated by the requirements. Look carefully at the process as the designation recognizes many different elements and not every candidate is equally strong in all areas. 

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

The specialty designation is a point of pride. It recognizes a life-long passion to continue to develop within my profession. It has added another level of respect and credibility for some of the work I do in both the clinical and expert areas.  

Education

B.Sc.P.T., with distinction, 1980 University of Alberta

Work and Awards History

  • 28 years Owner and Clinic Director the Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic.  Work setting private practice orthopaedics 
  • Expert witness qualified by the Ontario Superior Court and the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
  • Adjunct lecturer University of Toronto, Department of Physical Therapy. 
  • Chair-elect CPA Awards committee
  • Co-founder Spine Therapy Network
  • Over 10 years of recognition as an Educationally Influential Physiotherapist by the Institute of Work and Health.