I started my journey as a Physiotherapist when I graduated from Dalhousie University with my MSc.PT in 2010. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the role of physiotherapy in pelvic health conditions as a student, and immediately set out to pursue this career path upon graduation. I think that it sparked my interest because it was so novel - I had no idea that physiotherapists could do internal pelvic exams! Even now, I feel that the general public might not know that specially trained physiotherapists can treat conditions like urinary/fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, painful sexual conditions, pregnancy pain, help prepare for birth, retrain muscles after birth, rehabilitate pelvic cancers, help manage neurological bladder conditions, improve constipation, help with potty-training and bed-wetting...the list goes on and on. I was also motivated by the sheer number of people that were affected by pelvic floor problems, and who could not find help.
I worked in Halifax under an experienced pelvic floor physio for a few years, before moving back to my hometown of Moncton, NB. In 2013 I gave birth to my first child, and it gave me more insight into women's health issues. It fuelled an almost obsessive-like learning in me. I took more courses, started guest lecturing at Universities, began taking on more pelvic health patients, started information sessions with the public, began consulting with physicians and surgeons, started collaborating with Mount Allison's Sexual Health Lab to research pelvic pain, and volunteered to write for our association's National Women's Health Newsletter. I dove right in!
In 2017, I took the daunting step of opening my own practise and working only with pelvic health patients. I was worried that it would fail. I was nervous that pelvic health physiotherapy wouldn't be accepted in the community, and that I wouldn't be able to fill my schedule. But I realized the need for a full-time pelvic floor physiotherapist in region. The greater Moncton community - the medical community, the fitness community and the general public have been so welcoming and so interested in my practise. I have been so fortunate.
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
I feel the proudest, professionally, when a patient says they are so happy that they found out about pelvic floor physiotherapy. I see patients who have suffered with issues for years, decades, and because of the embarrassing nature of the conditions that I treat, have never tried to get help. Whenever a patient graduates from my care, I feel such satisfaction. And when a patient refers a friend or a family member, I am so honoured that they place their trust in my practise.
I am also proud of our local community for embracing the role of pelvic floor physiotherapy. So many health practitioners and fitness professionals now know to ask their patients and clients about their pelvic floor, and can offer help. And kudos to them, because it can sometimes be embarrassing to have these discussions. But I can attest, that with experience and a bit of practice, discussions and education around the pelvic floor do not need to be awkward.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
I feel, deep in my soul, that Atlantic Canada holds great potential. I'm inspired by the recent rise in female entrepreneurs and innovators. Women who are producing great products and services, and often specifically for other women. Community leaders and spokespersons who are advocating for the rights of women and minorities spark my motivation. In 10 years I hope to see an economy celebrating and benefiting from female contribution, and acknowledging the difficulties for parents to be involved in community growth during their child-rearing years.
I hope to see a shift in the healthcare landscape, where we have more services devoted to women. Prenatal and post-natal education, more obstetric and gynecology specialists, mental health services, pelvic floor re-education, opportunities for mothers with young children to exercise, guidance around healthy aging and menopause related health concerns, campaigns raising awareness around the lack of research for female specific conditions. The list is long, but there are so many people working towards improvements. I'm just one of the many.
What’s your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
Over the past year I have learned to surround myself with people who inspire me to do more and that I can accomplish more when I ask for help. Sometimes, in competitive industries, it can be scary to include others, promote another business or train another practitioner. But I have truly found that we rise faster as a team, and as a community. If I really want to see my province succeed (and I do), I know that I can't do it alone. I've found role-models who I really respect, and I've been fortunate enough to have them highlight my work. From this I've learned that I am a stronger and better clinician when I mentor, promote and support others.
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
Firstly, my family - I come from a long line of fierce women - my grandmothers, my aunts and cousins, and of course my Mom! We are a ya-ya sisterhood that promote, care for and volunteer in our community.
Recently I've been overwhelmed with local inspiration. Jenna Morton and Tosh Taylor from Pickle Planet Moncton who serve our parent community so well. Andree-Anne LeBlanc who is the organizer of EndoMarch NB a community organization aimed at raising awareness for endometriosis. Erin Casey, in Halifax, working towards ending period poverty. Local Girl-Bosses like Crystal Richard, April MacKinnon, Larissa Flannagan, and Kara Beaumont Walker who are always an inspiration and motivation to watch.
What would you have done differently?
Not much - but maybe trust my gut a little sooner. Sometimes it's too easy to quiet your little voice inside. I'm learning that it takes practise to develop, hone and trust your instincts.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Momtrepreneur, Women's Health Obsessed, Clinician, Educator, Mom of Boys, Foodie, Imposter Gardener