The School of Rehabilitation Therapy is celebrating its 50th Anniversary! In recognition of this special milestone, the School is publishing an online Alumni Profile Project. This series of alumni profiles will feature graduates from all of our programs, paying tribute to the diversity of experience, achievements, and contributions, of our alumni community.
“Embracing the clinician-researcher role”
Guest blog by Adeena Wisenthal, an occupational therapist in private practice in Ottawa, Ontario. Adeena is owner/operator of ERGO-Wise specializing in return-to-work preparation through her innovative cognitive work hardening program (bridge2workTM). Adeena graduated from Queen’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy with a PhD in Rehabilitation Science in 2016.
As a recent alumni, my six years of doctoral studies at Queen’s University are still fresh in my mind. I attended Queen’s as a mature student and a clinician with over 20 years’ experience in the fields of rehabilitation and mental health. Transitioning to research was challenging but at the same time it afforded me the opportunity to view rehabilitation from a different lens which I now bring with me to my role as clinician.
The field of occupational therapy strongly promotes research as a means to build an evidence-based profession. This includes a call out to clinicians to step outside their comfort zone and embark on research in order to study the effectiveness of treatment interventions and to ensure that research is relevant to clinical practice. My experience at Queen’s has enabled me to embrace the clinician-researcher role and to contribute to the field by offering research findings that build on an already strong evidence-based profession and that contribute to best practices. I have had the opportunity to study a treatment intervention in a rigorous manner, thus bringing to the profession outcome research findings that support the intervention that not only adds to clinicians’ toolkits but has the potential of enhanced treatment outcomes.
While my years of clinical success earned me the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapist’s Innovative Practice Award (2009), my PhD from Queen’s has positioned me to straddle both the clinical and research worlds. I can now bridge the clinical domain with scientific study thereby advancing the profession of occupational therapy.
My area of research and field of practice is return-to-work, primarily within the mental health domain. The intervention I studied was ‘cognitive work hardening’, an adaptation of the more classical ‘work hardening’ (which is an occupationally-based intervention that involves the client in simulated or actual work tasks designed to progressively increase stamina, productivity, and overall work ability for the purpose of return-to-work preparation). My research enabled me to conduct an in depth study of cognitive work hardening that supported the intervention’s effectiveness and highlighted key intervention elements. In addition to strengthening my own clinical practice, publication of my research findings and ultimately manualization of the intervention will bring to the field of occupational therapy a multi-dimensional intervention that can be offered by a broader community of occupational therapists so that a greater number of clients can benefit with enhanced return-to-work outcomes.
The completion of my doctoral studies at Queen’s coincided with an increased awareness of mental health in the media and among individuals and workplaces. We have Bell Let’s Talk Day and Queen’s University’s own Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair. It is my hope that my research builds on these initiatives by making cognitive work hardening more mainstream and a natural intervention choice to help prepare people to return to work after an episode of depression. My PhD from Queen’s is a critical step to making this goal a reality.
For more information on the School’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, our generous sponsors, and how you can get involved, visit: http://rehab.queensu.ca/initiatives/anniversary