To the Graduating Physiotherapists of 2022;
What an honour to be here today and to have the opportunity to address my newest colleagues and welcome you to the Physiotherapy profession.
Although classes ended a few months ago, today marks the ceremonial end to your Masters program, and the official “start” to your physiotherapy career.
You did it!
Although my convocation is 10 years behind me– it doesn’t feel all that long ago –and I do remember – very well – what it feels like to be sitting here today ,having completed a rigorous, intensive, and difficult program.
Feeling proud, relieved, and a bit anxious over what is coming next…
I remember feeling a little sad at closing the door on two years of learning in a supportive and nurturing environment but so excited about taking my place as a practitioner in a field that makes a significant difference in people’s lives.
It may sound a bit cliched but … hang on to both your excitement and your desire to make a difference … it will serve you well. Even after 10 years of practice, I still am excited about what our discipline can do and the people it can help. I wish the same for you!
When I was asked to speak to you today, and I started gathering my thoughts about what I wanted to share with you, what would be relevant and meaningful to you, it took me back to what I was thinking, feeling and wondering about when I graduated.
Feeling thrilled, confident and excited to be starting my career as a physiotherapist but really scared
Feeling that I had learned so much in lectures, and clinical placements but also feeling I didn’t know a thing
Feeling ready to be exposed to new practitioners, clinics and the “real world” but terrified to leave the confines of the “student” network
Feeling unsure of what was next, and doubting my ability to navigate the profession without my teachers and CI’s but so wanting the independence and space to make new mistakes.
I remember thinking “what is next?”.
When I went into physio school I thought I would come out just being a physio. But by graduation, I knew that there were so many paths to follow within the field and I was a bit unsure on the path to pick.
Our profession can be diverse with multiple ways of adding value to the practice of rehabilitative science but …. its dynamic nature, the range of careers and career paths within it, and the interface between healthcare practice and policy can be very exciting!
I will never forget having a “life chat” with a mentor when I was feeling lost in my work. He told me that just because I was now a ‘physiotherapist’ , it didn’t mean that I didn’t still have choices and options … there are permutations and combinations of careers that exist within our field. I have been fortunate to try some of them out and they have been enriching, challenging and rewarding.
I am excited for you, my colleagues – you are launching into a system that needs us. And that statement doesn’t come from a place of ego or arrogance, it is a statement of fact. You are graduating into a healthcare world that is going to need creativity and consistent effort from its physiotherapists, whether they be practitioners, researchers, educators, policymakers or patient advocates.
Ten years out in practice … I have developed some strong ideas about what we need to do our jobs properly. I want you to think about these as you take your place as practitioners in the field.
- We need consistency, with creativity
- We need protocols and procedures with the ability to be fluid and forward thinking
- We need to be grounded in best practices but open to new things and asking difficult questions.
- We need to be quarterbacks of the system and for our patients, but still be aware of our scope of practice
- We need to work independently and need to be patient advocates, but also be part of multi disciplinary teams that understand how our system works.
You are ready. You are ready to take this health care system by storm. As you sit here today, I encourage you to think about what you want to do. But … stay open to what you can do and please be aware of what you need to do … for yourselves yes but also for your patients and for your field.
Because you are about to enter a profession full of possibilities and options, of combinations and permutations. You are entering into a field that is supportive, that will challenge you and push you and allow you to push the status quo in order to meet patient needs.
We need that– As a profession, and as healthcare providers in the Ontario and Canadian system.
Throughout my career, my professors, clinical instructors and classmates have remained a valued source of support, learning, encouragement and connection. They have been there … through tough times, challenging times, frustrating times and good times. So – protect the friendships and connections you have made through the last few years. You will all need each other and will always benefit from sharing with each other as you each move forward into your own unique career.
No one of us knows all the answers … and that is actually a good thing. Because to know all the answers – or even worse … to THINK you know all the answers is to become stagnant.
So let’s stay dynamic.
And lets continue to advance our profession – TOGETHER!
Our health care system needs us … it needs what our education has taught us … how to be practitioners with a thorough understanding of the human body and patient care. Who understand the private and public systems and can think critically and constructively about how these systems do and don’t meet patient needs.
So don’t be scared to speak up, ask questions, experience it all, don’t pigeon hole yourself early and use your network.
Benefit from and give back to the community where you have learned from — that you are lucky to be a part of. I speak on behalf of that entire physio family – we are so excited to work with you, encourage you, and cheer you on. (and we are also looking forward to seeing what you can do!)
So class of 2022 – go get’em. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop pushing. Don’t stop asking questions but most of all enjoy the ride. Enjoy it all
Lead with intention, altruism, and intelligence
Be humble, be confident.
Strive to do your very best, to learn from mistakes, and to surround yourself with colleagues who inspire you.
Find what you love within physiotherapy – work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. Don’t settle, find what you love as a practitioner, researcher, teacher… as a physiotherapist.
Your education has given you a strong foundation has given you the foundation. A really strong foundation. It is now up to you what you want to build on it.
You have a bright future ahead of you. Congrats, enjoy today, and I look forward to working with all of you.
– Delivered by Dr. Charlotte Anderson to the MSc PT class of 2022 (U of T)