November 2009 - Largest Graduation Class to Date

Grads November 2009
From left to right: Kathy Davidson, Karen Hurtubise, Ellie Wray, 
Kathy Hatchard, Sue Stanton and Twila Mills. Missing: Darlene Russell.

This amazing graduating class brings together occupational therapists and physical therapists, most of whom live just outside of larger centres, in small centres such as Penticton, B.C. As with most of our graduates, they met the first time at the grad reception held the night before their convocation, November 26, 2009. You can read about this event on our program blog.

About the Graduates

Kathy Davidson is a physiotherapist and an independent consultant. Since 2011, she has worked in the areas of accreditation, regulation, competency development and evaluation, primarily with regulated health professions. Kathy was one of our first learners to study full-time and completed her master's in two years.
Kathy wrote:

I was ready for a new challenge practicing in a rural location can be isolating, and I was ready to learn more about what existed in research and practice across the province and the country. I wanted a way to link with other rehab professionals and learn more about what they do, how they think, how they practice.  I wanted to apply that information to my practice and my clients, and to grow as a physiotherapist.

We meet people from all over the world through online coursework, but I also met people in my own backyard who were on the same path. These connections will endure despite sometimes never having met face to face. I feel better connected outside of my work environment, and feel more confident in being able to apply new research to practice. I am also inspired to become more directly involved in research in the future.

Read about Kathy's research: Piloting a points-based caseload measure for community based paediatric occupational therapists and physiotherapists which has recently been accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy.


Kathy Hatchard is a Rehabilitation Consultant providing rehabilitation and return to work services for teachers in the South Okanagan with Occupational Rehabilitation Group of Canada.

Kathy wrote:

I started with an interest in improving my understanding of evidence based practice. Once in the midst of the evidence course, I realized that the focus of the program was very applicable to building relevant skills for practice while continuing to work. I then applied to progress from the graduate certificate program to the MRSc program.

The best part of completing the master's was having the opportunity to dialogue with peers and faculty who were passionate about rehabilitation, its current state of rapid development and the need for innovative solutions in these difficult economic times. I learned that issues close to home were national concerns and this helped me to broaden my perspective both of the issues and potential strategies.

I think the hardest part of this endeavour was the necessary time away from family and friends.  While the purpose was clear, the shift of time away from significant others was difficult.  I am indebted to my family and friends for their patience, support, editing, and sharing in that benchmark known as 'push send' at the end of the project.

The core courses helped me to build a solid foundation in terms of understanding evidence based practice, research, planning, program evaluation and reasoning. This base helped me to choose an area of focus for my major project which proved to be a culmination of the initial course work combined with previous interests in my career. This progression has led me to my current position and also to potential next steps in research.

Read about Kathy's research: Self-directing return to mainstream work following acute mental illness: Barriers, facilitators and educational needs


Karen Hurtubise is currently the Program Facilitator, Dr. Gordon Townsend Rehabilitation and Education Program, Neurosciences at Alberta Children's Hospital but when she originally began the program in 2005 she was living in Newfoundland.

Karen wrote:

I have enjoyed doing my Master's for many reasons. Exchanging ideas and debating issues with like-minded individuals from across Canada and around the world and from various rehabilitation sectors has been a significant privilege of the process. In addition, library services have allowed easy access to the latest knowledge and information in my field of practice. Finally, I have had the opportunity to developing new, very useful skills and to complete projects that are relevant to my day to day practice, that otherwise would have been stayed on the 'to-do' list.

The Master's degree requires a significant time commitment and, despite the greatest efforts, does decrease the amount of time available to spend with loved-ones. The process cannot be completed without understanding and support of those that we are closest too and share in our lives.

Personally, I believe that doing my Master's has made me a broader thinker, not only considering the situational information but also the broader context in which it is happening. I also think that it has given me a better appreciation of how rehabilitation professionals from other disciplines (e.g. nursing, occupational therapy) process information, the theory upon which their reasoning is based, and how they arrive at their professional conclusions. Finally, I believe that it has improved my confidence, providing me with a sound basis on which to describe my professional reasoning process, the skills to gather, evaluate, understand and share the evidence to support the reasoning process and advanced skills to evaluate outcomes that are important to stakeholders. 

Read about Karen's research: Parents' experience in role negotiation in the Family Centered Care Model of Infant Services at Alberta Children's Hospital


Twila Mills is a full-time occupational therapist in Addiction and Mental Health Services, Edmonton. She provides psychosocial intervention including group facilitation, and individual assessment and treatment at an inner city hospital acute care setting. While passionate about mental health and wellness, she also enjoys the occasional foray into physical medicine to maintain skill sets.

For Twila, the biggest impact of completing the master's program has been to strengthen her commitment to lifelong learning and professional development, including evidence based practice skills, research and mentoring. She looks forward to more research and writing opportunities now that she has completed her masters.

In her major research project Twila conducted phase one of a three phase action research project intended to promote action research usage, as well as to gain participants' perspective on implementation of ICF with GAS. She is hopeful that the information gained through her research will be helpful to therapists planning to implement GAS or ICF, as well as those considering thematic analysis or action research.

"I can't stress enough how valuable I believe this post graduate level program to be especially for those who, like me, may have graduated some time ago. From my own experience, I needed a pivotal learning moment to get me started on this learning path. Since then I've never looked back." 

Read about Twila's research: Therapists' Experiences Using International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) with Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS)


Darlene Russell is the Professional Practice Leader for Occupational Therapy in Interior Health, Cranbrook, BC.

Darlene wrote that she pursued her master's to gain a better understanding of how to use evidence based research into practice, and to continue to grow both personally and professionally. She felt the best part was achieving each small step along the way and completing her research project, and the worst part was not being able to meet her colleagues who she studied with 'electronically' these last three years. Darlene was unable to attend the graduation reception or convocation. Nevertheless, Darlene feels  studying and obtaining her master's was an immeasurable difference and a wonderful journey.

Read about Darlene's research: Occupational therapy programs in acute care: Are we improving patient's perceived occupational performance?


Ellie Wray is an occupational therapist and intake coordinator in the Early Intervention Therapy Program out of the BC Centre for Ability in Vancouver, BC.

Ellie wrote that she did her master's to deepen her knowledge of research methods and program development - and for the fun and challenge of it! She enjoyed connecting with other learners on-line and being engaged in the learning process. The highlight was finishing her own research project. She acknowledges that there is a lack of time, and it was tough to work full-time and take courses at the same time.

Nevertheless, she wrote that she felt more confident in her research and clinical planning skills and is prepared to take on the challenges that face her profession (occupational therapy) in the next several decades. "It taught me how to push myself, to question current practices and to improve service delivery."

Read about Ellie's research: Cultural competence in occupational therapy