To promote and advance the practice of physical therapy for cancer patients and survivors by promoting ongoing evidence-based education, facilitating inter-professional collaboration, and fostering the exchange of clinical and research knowledge between its members.
To improve the quality of life, independence and well-being of individuals affected by cancer.
2021 Vision for the Division
Oncology Rehabilitation is moving forward from its infancy of a few pioneers forging the way and setting foundational research to a fast-growing field with ever increasing interest from clinicians and academics around the world. I see the CPA and Oncology Division as a way to connect this high momentum progress with the incredible potential of skilled Canadian physiotherapists. More knowledge and tools are being developed every day to help cancer patients and survivors reduce suffering and live better lives. Physiotherapists are key, and I would like to ensure we are aware and educated of the important role we have.
My first priority is education. As a member of the Oncology Division National Education Committee for the last year, I have advocated for several important issues: greater member access to post-graduate education, review of entry to practice oncology education, oncology physiotherapy competency profile, and the clinical expert curriculum. I would like to completely revamp our Oncology Division website to provide an organized, easy to navigate, and up-to-date catalog of upcoming education opportunities. Travel to courses is the largest barrier to participation from our members spread across this huge country. I’ve spoken with some of our top instructors at Canadian Universities about providing web-based learning for our members; I believe it’s possible and work is already underway to have more online learning opportunities for our membership in the next year.
I’ve had the conversation with our members about the importance of having clearly defined practice competencies which delineate the skills and education a clinician should pursue to develop their expertise as a specialist in oncology. I want to generate an organized oncology core competencies document which clearly states the expected knowledge and skills at entry to practice, mentorship, and specialization levels. Many of us practicing in oncology are doing so out of personal interest and have developed our skills through self-motivated study of the literature and interactions with other therapists, physicians, or researchers. This can be a very effective way to learn, but without guidance or affirmation, we can sometimes doubt our confidence and abilities. By having a document to guide self-study and personal development efforts, our members can feel confident about their skills and be comfortable about regarding themselves as experts in oncology physiotherapy.
A large challenge to the creation of both more education resources and a competency document is the wide range of body systems affected by cancer and the many different clinical settings physiotherapy is involved in patient care. Thankfully, we have the incredible diversity and talent within our membership to take on this challenge. We can also look to work being done by our education committee, the work being done in other countries, and the work done in similar disciplines, like physiatry, and related practice areas, like palliative care. I am confident we have the capacity through collaboration within our Oncology Division and with outside stakeholders to achieve the education goals I envision.
Advocacy remains a critical function of the Oncology Division. Under our current Chair, Mary-Ann Dalzell, we have had strong representation within the CPA and within advocacy for oncology rehabilitation research. I plan to continue this course of action and ensure the value of physiotherapy in oncology is recognized by our profession, our research institutions, policy makers, and the public.
The clinician-researcher model is becoming more popular and proving its merits as a system for quality improvement, patient-centered research, and evidence-informed practice. I believe there are many PTs in our Division with important ideas and questions; I would like to see the Oncology Division help support these individuals in the clinician-researcher role. Firstly, by providing information on relevant grant funding opportunities and how to apply for these. Secondly, by helping connect individuals on the front lines who have ideas to mentor in the academic realm to help them navigate the process. I would like to eventually see the Oncology Division as an interactive community where members can share ideas and ongoing research findings in an open and equal forum.
This is my vision for the CPA Oncology Division; to foster education, advocacy, and a clinician-researcher community among Canadian physiotherapists helping those affected by cancer.
Chair-Elect, Oncology Division
Canadian Physiotherapy Association