Recognition for Clinical Education

University of Toronto's Department of Physical Therapy hands out annual Recognition Awards

Portraits of Dr. Crystal MacKay, Pankaj Vaza, and Janet Campbell

West Park Healthcare Centre is lucky to have staff members who, in addition to their regular responsibilities, give back to their professions by taking on the role of preceptor to the many students that come to the Centre every year.

Because of their dedication, students are able to gain valuable firsthand experience from professionals in their field that will then help them in their own careers.

Every year, the University of Toronto’s Department of Physical Therapy holds an Exceptional Achievement and Recognition Awards Ceremony to celebrate some of these individuals.

“Recognition Awards recognize individuals or teams who provided valuable learning environments, guidance, supervision, mentoring, or who have been an inspiration to students across the curriculum,” UofT’s website states.

We would like to congratulate Dr. Crystal MacKay, Janet Campbell, and Pankaj Vaza for winning Recognition Awards for their important work as a Clinical Instructor/Centre Coordinator of Clinical Education.

“It is always exciting and an honour to be recognized by my colleagues in the Department of Physical Therapy at UofT,” Dr. MacKay says.

Campbell has taken on many students before as a preceptor, and she says she finds it rewarding because “you get to see them apply what they learned in the classroom, and you get to see their growth,” she says.

“But it’s a two-way street,” adds Vaza. “They’re learning from you but you’re also learning from them.” Vaza says the questions that students ask can result in interesting conversations, and students help him stay connected to the profession by understanding new or different concepts being taught in the classroom.

The Centre hosts many students each year, with 200 Allied Health and nursing students alone in 2021 gaining practical experience at West Park. West Park has a robust clinical student program across a spectrum of services that also includes recreational therapy and respiratory therapy, and in addition to learning, students can also help with research and innovation.

“The students have made important contributions to research at West Park, allowing us to conduct new projects or advancing some of our ongoing studies,” Dr. MacKay says.

“For example, we are currently working on publishing a paper that began as a project by one of the students who developed a survey on barriers and facilitators to cardiac rehab for people with limb loss in Canada. Thanks to wonderful West Park physiotherapists like Janet Campbell, students working on research internships with me have often been able to spend some time in clinical areas with physiotherapists at West Park, allowing them to contribute to clinical care.”

Kimberley Day, Geriatric Clinic Coordinator, says another added benefit for taking on students is that “it facilitates reflection on your own practice and your skills. As an experienced clinician, you kind of know inherently what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, but when you have a student you have to kind of verbalize that thought process and it helps you to reflect on the ‘why’ of what you’re doing.”