Happy Occupational Therapy Month!

Canadian Clinical Blog by Sheilagh Sherman, BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.) - Sunrise Medical

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall that in October I tend to write an anniversary article to celebrate another year with Sunrise Medical Canada. This month marks my 8th year with Sunrise Medical! Since October also is Occupational Therapy month across Canada, I thought I would write a little on my experiences that led me to occupational therapy. I would also like to celebrate Occupational Therapy month by sharing a recorded webinar and by seeking input for a future webinar. More on that later in this article!

My Path to Occupational Therapy

Some people are surprised to learn that my first undergraduate degree is in Political Science as there is no obvious relationship to occupational therapy. In my last year of my Poli Sci degree at the University of Toronto, I began to work part-time in a group home for young adults with physical impairments. It was then that I discovered occupational therapy and the roles that various occupational therapists had with the residents of the group home. I was intrigued! Prior to this, I had been thinking about graduate school for public administration, but seeing occupational therapists work with residents on seating and mobility issues and with respect to mental health with other residents started my interest in occupational therapy.

I did some homework on the profession, finding out all that I could. At the time, occupational therapy was a program that students could apply to from high school or after some undergraduate work, depending on the university. I could not believe that there were high school students who knew of occupational therapy and were certain of their academic path, when it took me seemingly so long to figure things out!

After graduating from the University of Toronto with my Poli Sci degree, my husband and I went on a grand adventure and drove across the country to Victoria, BC, where my husband did 3 more years of university at UVic. During some of this time, I worked at a group home for individuals with physical and communication impairments. I also took courses at UVic as I thought I may need biology, chemistry and stats courses to apply to occupational therapy programs.

Despite loving our time in Victoria, my husband and I returned to Ontario after he finished his degree to be closer to our families. While in Victoria, I applied to occupational therapy programs in Ontario. I chose to go to McMaster University for occupational therapy as their program was an innovative, problem-based, 24-month, second-degree program. (After all that, I did not require the courses I took at UVic to apply to the program! My Political Science degree allowed me to apply with a personal experience statement and references, followed by an interview.)

Post-OT Graduation

When I graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) degree in 1994, the job market was much different than it is now. Occupational therapists had their pick of jobs. With a young child at home (and another one a few years later), I chose to work in the community. I have always loved working in home care. I enjoyed seeing clients with various diagnoses in their own homes, with their support systems. I also enjoyed the flexibility that home care offered to allow me to balance my home-work life. Unfortunately, working in home care did not offer income stability. At one time, the referrals all by stopped when the then Community Care Access Centre limited the usual number of referrals for an extended period of time due to budget constraints. With one child in competitive swimming and another child in competitive dancing, it was time to work in salaried positions! Working at a rehab centre and in complex continuing care offered me further experiences for professional growth.

When I worked in various salaried positions, I had the opportunity to work with therapist assistants. That brings us to our next part of this article, celebrating occupational therapy month.

Expanding Roles of Therapist Assistants and Wheelchair Provision

Many of you who participated in my Cyber Series last year will know that one of the webinar topics offered was Expanding Roles of Therapist Assistants and Wheelchair Provision. It was a popular topic and after last May’s webinar, I had many people reach out to me from across Canada to request a privately scheduled session to share the information with work colleagues. (Just a reminder that I offer webinars-by-request for groups of 5 or more.) Due to the popularity of the topic and to celebrate Occupational Therapy month, I have recorded this webinar. If you are a regulated health professional or an OTA or PTA in Canada and would like to view this webinar, please email me at Sheilagh.Sherman@sunmed.com with your name, discipline, workplace and province and I will send you the link and the password for the webinar. Enjoy!

Outcome Measures Feedback

If you are familiar with the Expanding Roles of Therapist Assistants and Wheelchair Provision webinar, you will know that I drew on the responses of therapists from across the country to form a fuller picture of how therapists in various practice settings and provinces work with therapist assistants and wheelchair provision. I would like to do something similar when thinking about outcome measures. (For background information on outcome measures, please refer to this July 2018 Clinical Corner article: Outcome Measures in Seating and Mobility.) I have set up a Survey Monkey questionnaire for therapists to share their experiences with outcome measures related to seating and mobility. Please click on the following link to provide anonymous feedback: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SeatingAndMobilityOutcomeMeasures. The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. If you prefer, you may also e-mail me directly at Sheilagh.Sherman@sunmed.com with your thoughts and experiences with outcome measures and seating and mobility. Thank you for your time!

The results of the survey will be shared in the June 2019 Cyber Series webinar.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this month’s Clinical Corner article that celebrates being an occupational therapist, working with therapist assistants, and knowledge inquiry with outcome measures.


As always, please provide your comments, questions, and suggestions regarding Clinical Corner. Please email me at Sheilagh.Sherman@sunmed.com. I look forward to hearing from you!


Sheilagh Sherman BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.) - Clinical Education Manager, Canada

Sheilagh Sherman, BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Sheilagh Sherman joined Sunrise Medical Canada in 2010 as a Clinical Educator. Prior to joining Sunrise, Sheilagh gained extensive clinical experience working in a variety of settings, including neurological rehabilitation, complex continuing care, and community rehabilitation. As the Clinical Education Manager, Sheilagh is a clinical resource for therapists across Canada involved in seating and mobility. She leads workshops, seminars, and webinars on the clinical aspects of seating and mobility. In addition, Sheilagh has presented at national and international conferences on seating and mobility.

Sheilagh also has an educational background that makes her well suited to the role of Clinical Education Manager. Sheilagh earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1988, which enables her to understand healthcare policy and policy changes. Sheilagh graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) degree from McMaster University in 1994. In 2012, Sheilagh earned a Certificate in Adult Education/Staff Training from Seneca College. She applies adult learning principles to the workshops she leads. Finally, she also has a Master of Health Management (MHM) degree from McMaster University after graduating in 2015. Courses that Sheilagh completed during the MHM degree, such as Knowledge Translation, Evaluating Sources of Evidence, and Quality & Safety in Healthcare, assist Sheilagh in using an evidence-based approach in her work.

In her free time, Sheilagh enjoys running, in addition to practicing yoga.


Date: 2018-10-30


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