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About Us


The School of Rehabilitation Therapy was established by Queen’s University in 1967 to meet the needs of the local population and the expansion of local health care facilities. We continue to make active contributions to and engage with the members of our local community. Through interprofessional and international research collaborations, community development projects and many other initiatives, our work has expanded and enabled us to contribute to the daily lives of individuals and communities regionally, nationally and internationally.

We work continuously to strengthen the School and the programs we offer. Over the years, the programs in Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy have evolved from a diploma (1967) to a bachelor’s degree (1972), and then to an entry-level master’s degree (2004). We initiated an MSc in Rehabilitation Science in 1988 and a PhD in 2000. In 2015, the School launched a new suite of programs in Aging and Health – a graduate diploma and an MSc. In 2016, a PhD was added to this suite. Graduates from all of these programs have gone on to exciting and productive careers across the full range of opportunities in rehabilitation – clinical practice, consulting, management and administration, business, community development, education and research. We are proud of their achievements and welcome opportunities to hear about their successes.

Whatever your reason for seeking information about the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, we welcome you. 


The School of Rehabilitation Therapy was established in 1967 to meet the needs of a growing population and expansions in health care facilities. Two divisions were created: Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The School was administered through the Faculty of Medicine and its first Director, Dr. David Symington, was also the Head of Rehabilitation Medicine within the university affiliated hospitals.

Physical Therapy (Class of 2015), Occupational Therapy (Class of 2015) and Rehabilitation Science students.
Back (from left to right): Nicole Hills, Ian Gilcrest, Jared Maynard, Karen O'Neil, Christine Creelman, Moragh MacKenzie,
Patricia Knobl, Bushra Bayan, De-Lawrence Lamptey, Patricia Hewston, Amberly Horton.
Front (from left to right): Emma Plater, Leirick Chung, Erin Brady.

© Queen's University 

The first programs offered by the School were three year diploma programs, with the understanding and approval of the University Senate that ultimately the programs should change to four year degree (BSc) programs. Initially housed in temporary facilities in the basement of the men's residence, the School moved to its present location in the Louise D Acton Building in 1972, with the appointment of the second Director, Dr. William Forrest. At that time, the Louise D Acton Building was owned by the Kingston General Hospital.

In 1972 the first students were admitted into the newly created continuous four year degree programs. Students with a diploma, either domestic or foreign, were allowed to upgrade their qualification by completing the requirements for their baccalaureate degree. At this time the affiliation of the School within the Faculty of Medicine was ill-defined.

The School's third Director, Professor Barrie Pickles, was the first Physical Therapist to hold this position. With his appointment, the School's position within the Faculty of Medicine became more clearly defined and members of the School's faculty became members of the Faculty Board, the ruling body of the Faculty of Medicine.

In 1984, Dr. Malcolm Peat was appointed as the Director of the School. Two significant changes came about during his terms of office. First, in 1988 the graduate program leading to an MSc in Rehabilitation Science was approved and accepted its first students. It is noteworthy that the graduate programs in Rehabilitation Science are offered by the School as a whole, not by the professional programs, so that faculty from both programs participate as do faculty from other university departments with cross-appointments to the School. Second, the School expanded its involvement in international community-based rehabilitation, culminating in the creation of a Centre of Excellence supported by the Canadian International Development Agency: The International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR). Many faculty members from both programs have and continue to participate in the Centre's endeavours.

In July 1998 a new Faculty of Health Sciences was formed incorporating the Schools of Nursing, Rehabilitation Therapy and Medicine, which also includes the basic science departments. Dr. Barry Smith became the first Dean. Dr. Sandra Olney was appointed Director of the School and Associate Dean of Health Sciences in 1998. The organizational structure of the School was changed and three programs were identified: the undergraduate program in Occupational Therapy, the undergraduate program in Physical Therapy, and the graduate program in Rehabilitation Science. Each program was headed by a Program Chair.

The admission criteria for the undergraduate programs changed in September 1997. A minimum of one year of university education with specific pre-requisites was required for admission. New three year curricula were introduced in September 1999. The Ph.D. program in Rehabilitation Science was implemented in September 2000.

In 2003 approval was granted for master's level professional programs (MSc OT and MSc PT) to replace baccalaureate programs. The last year of entry to the undergraduate programs was 2003, with entry to the master's level programs beginning in 2004. Dr. Olney completed her second term as Associate Dean, Health Sciences and Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy in June 2006 and Dr. Elsie Culham was appointed to this position in February 2007. During Dr. Culham's time as Director, the enrollment in the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs doubled, and major renovations of the clinical teaching lab was completed to accommodate the increased number of students.

In 2012, Dr. Marcia Finlayson was appointed as Director of the School, and Vice Dean (Health Sciences). Dr. Finlayson is the first Occupational Therapist to hold this position.

In 2015, the School launched a new suite of programs in Aging and Health – a graduate diploma and an MSc.  In 2016, a PhD was added to this suite.

The School of Rehabilitation Therapy's overarching strategic goal is to lead and inspire positive changes that transform lives through rehabilitation research, education and practice. In 2013, the School's faculty identified the following priorities related to this goal:

  • To develop and translate new knowledge that benefits people affected by or at risk of a disability.
  • To make meaningful contributions to the work of our collaborators locally, nationally and internationally.
  • To create synergies across our teaching, research, and community engagement initiatives in order to operate efficiently.
  • To operate in ways that supports the effectiveness and well-being of our faculty, staff and students.