College Blog 

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  • Life as a PT in a Rural, Remote or Northern Community

    Mar 18, 2019

    By: Kirsten Pavelich, PT and College Practice Advisor

    If you’ve ever practiced in a rural, remote, or northern community, you have a story. Maybe it’s about the patient who waited months for their wheelchair to be delivered and had to be carried by family members in the meantime. Or, when you got asked to do all the home environmental assessments because the local hospital wasn’t able to recruit an occupational therapist. Or, the time you came home from work after you just moved to town to find that a patient had shovelled your snowy driveway and left you a shovel because they knew you hadn’t bought one yet.

    Although practice is practice, and standards are standards, practicing within the context of rural, remote, or northern communities is different from practicing elsewhere. There may be challenges around patient access to service, travel and funding, and boundaries and confidentiality.

    It might take more work to create a professional network of PTs, access formal professional development, and learn how to become a skilled generalist. You may be required to wear a number of hats—PT for inpatients, outpatients, and urgent care, while also managing a department and sitting on committees. You may work with patients from groups who are disadvantaged on many fronts and find yourself frustrated about the barriers they face.

    As real as these challenges are, PTs who work in northern, rural, or remote settings will tell you about the benefits as well. There are often more opportunities for shaping policy and having input in how programs run. Challenges in providing accessible quality care can lead to innovative approaches, and greater collaboration with other health care providers.

    Communities and the relationships within them, including with colleagues, are often tight knit. You may have the opportunity to learn more about Ontario’s Indigenous and Francophone cultures, and you might learn to embrace the outdoors—even in winter! It’s also stimulating—you get to see patients with a wide variety of conditions, and you’re constantly developing your knowledge and skill set. 

    PTs find that they also have to develop knowledge and skill sets to deal with situations that pose challenges to maintaining their professional standards of practice.

    Encountering certain challenges more frequently can encourage PTs to reflect, discuss with colleagues, and develop strategies for maintaining standards that they can adapt to new situations as they arise. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a prepared response when someone asks you in your work or community setting for confidential information about a patient they know, like “how’s Jim doing after that nasty fall?”

    But often the challenges are more complex and nuanced and require a carefully thought out approach.

    Wherever you practice, if you’re ever unsure about how to maintain College standards in a challenging situation, you can check out the College’s website where you’ll find all the standards along with some great resources and FAQs.

    Or, contact the Practice Advisors! Our team is made up of experienced physiotherapists from across the province—including the north. Practice Advisors can help you work through challenging situations and are just an email or phone call away.


    Phone: 1-800-583-5885 (extension 241)

    Have you worked in a rural, remote or northern setting? What kinds of challenges have you encountered around maintaining professional standards? Were you able to come up with solutions or strategies? And where could you use more support or discussion to figure things out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

    Full story
    • professional standards
    • standards of practice
    • access to care
    • remote
    • Northern Ontario
    • rural
    • blog
    • physiotherapy
  • Empathy: Keeping the Caring in Health Care

    Feb 19, 2019
    Lisa Pretty, Director of Communications and Chair of the Citizen Advisory Group Partnership, breaks down the importance of empathy and the lasting impression it has on patients.
    Full story
    • College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
    • compassion
    • Ontario
    • patient consultations
    • CAG
    • citizen advisory group
    • health care
    • physiotherapist
    • empathy
  • Tele-rehabilitation – Another Tool in Your Toolkit

    Jan 23, 2019
    Full story
    • Ontario
    • communities
    • remote
    • physiotherapist
    • Northern Ontario
    • Consent
    • wearable
    • skype
    • internet
    • videoconference
    • technology
    • out of province
    • physiotherapy
    • cross border
    • cross-border
    • telerehabilitation
    • tele-rehabilitation
  • Privacy Laws: The Times They Are A-Changin’

    Dec 11, 2018
    Full story
    • Health Information Custodian
    • HIC
    • PIPEDA
    • PHIPA
    • technology
    • patient information
    • security
    • privacy law
    • privacy breach
    • privacy
  • Legalizing Cannabis: What Does it Mean for Physiotherapists?

    Nov 13, 2018
    Full story
    • treatment
    • Consent
    • physiotherapy
    • legalization
    • cannabis
    • blog
  • Supervising Physiotherapy Residents: An Important and Rewarding Role

    Oct 19, 2018
    Peter Ruttan, registered physiotherapist and Investigator at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, blogs about the responsibilities of a Practice Supervisor when working with Physiotherapy Residents.
    Full story
    • physiotherapist
    • investigator
    • Peter Ruttan
    • Ontario
    • College of Physiotherapists
    • physiotherapy residents
    • supervision
    • practice supervisor
  • What I Learned from the College: Top Tips for New Physiotherapists

    Sep 17, 2018
    Guest blogger and PT student Ian Winningham shares what he learned during his clinical placement at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.
    Full story
    • record keeping
    • accounts
    • billing
    • fees
    • physiotherapist
    • student
    • blog
  • What’s Your Piece of #MeToo?

    Aug 23, 2018
    A blog from the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario's Registrar, Shenda Tanchak, discussing the importance of boundaries between physiotherapists and patients, in the wake of the Me Too movement.
    Full story
    • me too
    • patient
    • physiotherapist
    • Boundaries
  • Creating a Discussion: More than Just a Checked Box

    Jul 24, 2018
    Elizabeth Leung, a physiotherapy student who is doing a placement at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, blogs about the importance of consent in physiotherapy practice.
    Full story
    • student
    • physiotherapy
    • Consent
  • Delisted: Make Sure it Doesn’t Happen to You

    May 24, 2018
    A blog by Fiona Campbell, Senior Physiotherapy Advisor at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, explaining how and when a physiotherapist may be delisted by an insurance company.
    Full story
    • Delisted
    • Delisting
    • Abuse
    • physiotherapist
    • Billing Number
    • billing
    • Insurance Fraud

Contact the Practice Advisor

Free and anonymous counsel for PTs, patients, & the public. Learn More
416-591-3828 ext. 241
1-800-583-5885 ext. 241