A woman whose chronic pain led her to study occupational therapy. A speech pathologist whose quest for answers prompted her to pursue a PhD in rehabilitation sciences. And a woman drawn to occupational therapy because of its compassion.
Meet three women who are members of the Faculty of Medicine's Class of 2018, graduating this fall. They explain why they chose to enter their fields.
Lauren Stacey: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
"I became interested in occupational therapy because of my personal experience living with chronic pain. In my second year of undergraduate studies, I was not able to function properly due to pain. I saw a lot of health-care professionals, but no one was able to help me as well as an occupational therapist, who made it possible for me to attend classes, engage in extra-curriculars and advocate for myself at school.
"After this experience, I did some research and learned that occupational therapists can work in such a multitude of areas and capacities that this profession would open many doors for my career. Because of my undergraduate degree in global development, I was also looking for a profession that could blend well with my undergraduate training. As an occupational therapist, I’d be well-suited to engage in advocacy and make meaningful changes in health care, and that attracted me to the field."
Teresa Valenzano: PhD from Rehabilitation Sciences Institute
“As a practising speech-language pathologist, I found myself frequently asking, 'Why?' – looking for answers to clinically relevant questions and often finding the evidence was lacking. As I strived to inform and improve my own clinical practice, I became more and more interested in trying to answer those questions. A doctorate in the rehabilitation sciences provided me with that opportunity, allowing for collaboration between different researchers and health disciplines to tackle a current gap in knowledge.
“I am specifically interested in swallowing physiology in individuals with various neurological disorders, with a focus on understanding how function is impaired as a result of a neurological disorder and how this may relate to perceived quality of life.
“For most individuals, food lies centrally at everything we do – grabbing a coffee with a friend to catch up, hosting a holiday dinner and having cake to celebrate your birthday. It’s not something we think a lot about when we do it, but when the ability to eat safely becomes compromised, it could rock the foundation of most of our social interactions.
“Changes in neurological function can often lead to changes in swallowing safety, but how this changes depends on the type of disorder and the interaction of various different physiological systems and the effect on quality of life is specific to each individual.”
Tsering Wangmo: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
“As a Tibetan Canadian, I was raised to strive for compassion by developing genuine sympathy for the suffering of others and the will to help remove their pain. I decided to pursue occupational therapy because compassion was evident in the client-centred practice of the profession. Occupational therapists engage with clients with the intention of understanding and addressing their individual needs, and it all comes from a place of empathy and the desire to help. I strongly believe that occupational therapists embody the true essence of compassion.”