Physio North is a biannual conference launched in the 1990s to enrich, empower and encourage physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants working in northern Ontario.

This September, we had more than 30 people register for Physio North 2019. Our theme was Maximizing Our Potential. Traditionally, we are a profession that constantly tries to maximize our clients’ potential and their peak performance. We think it’s equally important to devote time to develop our own potential as health care providers – by attending professional development and networking opportunities such as Physio North. Thus, our theme was born.

As the planning committee gathered to invite speakers, we realized how fortunate we were to find so many exceptional physiotherapists working in northern Ontario. Physio North speakers included:

  • The research chair, Dr. Nancy Young from Laurentian University who began her career as a paediatric physiotherapist at Sick Kids
  • Deepa Jeevanantham, an assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and a research physiotherapist at Health Sciences North, who spoke about developing evidence based clinical guidelines for multiple myeloma.
  • Two physiotherapists with advanced practice roles: Paul Dissanayake and Erin Thibeault presented and explained the value and importance of Advanced Practice Providers (APP).

Not only did we learn about musculoskeletal conditions and oncology as it relates to physiotherapy, but also neuroscience and cardiopulmonary rehab with Jennifer King, Nicole Gallagher, Jennifer Fearn, Susan Jayne Bursey and Karen Lagace. We were also honoured to have an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Ryan Hodgins, a physiotherapist advocate, provide an update on orthopaedic surgery for rotator cuff repair and reverse total shoulder arthroplasty.

One of the areas in which we can continue to maximize our potential is in exploring opportunities to establish our own private practices and working with other parts of the system to create partnerships that will increase access to physiotherapy and break down barriers to access that have been part of our health system for far too long. This is how we demonstrate value within a changing health system that is moving more and more towards integrated care models. Three practitioners that were invited to Physio North encouraged participants to consider opening up their own private practice.

We were so thrilled to have the President-Elect of OPA, Paulette Gardiner Millar provide the Keynote Speech on Friday night after our Northern Ontario District AGM. Rod Hamilton, Registrar from the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario also attended and led a discussion on boundaries, sexual abuse and scope of practice.

The Past-President of OPA, Wendy Smith was also among one of the participants and presenters, sharing her wealth of experience and knowledge with the attendees of Physio North 2019.

We were grateful to have six corporate sponsors for this event: Clinicmaster, Lifemark, Novo Health, Performance Health, Viscus and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority.

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Participants were enriched, empowered and encouraged by this year’s conference. We encourage all to meet again in Ottawa to celebrate the 100th anniversary of CPA at Congress 2020.

We would like to thank Julie LaRocque for serving as the President of the Northern Ontario District of OPA for more than five years. Her contribution to Physio North 2019 was invaluable as were her years of connecting the physiotherapy community in this district. The conference was also not possible without the many dedicated committee members: Dr. Venkadesan Rajendran PT, Tierney Gunthorpe PT, and Jody Lemieux PT.

By Andy Wang, District President, Northern Ontario District