The old adage of time having wings rings true; a few years ago, a class of mostly eighteen year olds started their diploma in physiotherapy. How is it possible that this summer we celebrated 35 years since our graduation from the U of S. This event in Saskatoon brought back a flood of memories for me.
The strongest memories are of clinical practicums and of course, the insidious close relationship that developed between the class members. Within the first year of study, we lost three class members to other university programs. While this was of significant consternation, it was balanced by the closeness of a small group of people constantly interacting with each other over a period of time that develop almost a familial relationship. It was expected that Shelley and Joy would pepper each professor with a multitude of questions, that Vic Cottrell’s pipe would never light, that Joy Schaffer would answer all questions (correctly), that Richard and Carla always sat behind me and Joyce Manton would gaze to the heavens for directions in her thought process. Clinical practicums confirmed for me that I had chosen the correct field of study and brought with them much anticipation/trepidation of what the following years of study would bring.
The program’s emphasis on clinical excellence provided me personally with exceptional mentors; Debbie Gunther-Hansen, Angela Busch and Arlis McQuarrie were exceptional clinicians who exemplified all that I desired to be in my professional life. My work life has been varied: orthopaedic outpatients in Australia (after three years of neurological rehabilitation: yikes!!), a regional hospital caseload that was always being prioritized by staff shortages, private practice with Richard with a predominant chronic pain focus, private practice in Montreal with oncology clientele, very acute repetitive strain injuries in a seating assembly plant in Milton and finally, a general orthopaedic outpatient private clinic. Always, the situation felt the same; I never knew enough but somehow, managed to land on my feet and provide, hopefully, adequate treatment to my many patients. I firmly believe that it was the school’s emphasis on clinical practice that allowed me to survive and eventually thrive in each new situation.
As we gathered for a celebratory BBQ this summer; the old familiar connections to each other were quickly re-established. I smiled as I sipped my wine and the conversation turned to impending retirement plans, aging parents and grandchildren that underlying all, was the contentment of people who have enjoyed a happy work life. This is not to say, that our work has not been without frustrations but only that it has returned to us a sense of fulfillment/happiness/satisfaction that many around me don’t seem to experience. What an extraordinary gift to be given to each of us!!
The physiotherapy program and profession has expanded in depth and dimension. I naively thought that our class experienced the “best of times” but when one sees what is happening with clinical research and practice, the best is yet to come. Good luck and great experiences to all the new grads.
Class of 77