Student leader receives provincial recognition for her passion for physiotherapy

Former RMSA President receives the Physiotherapy Alberta 2017 Student Leadership Award

Amy Knezevich - 30 November 2017

Leah Peterson was drawn to the physiotherapy profession from a young age.

Having received physical therapy treatment intermittently herself from the age of eight, and again following ankle surgery three years ago, Peterson learned first-hand the valuable impact that physical therapy can have on a patient's life.

That knowledge, combined with experience working in a private physiotherapy clinic, led to Peterson's passion for physical therapy, earning her the Physiotherapy Alberta 2017 Student Leadership Award.

Peterson enrolled in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's master of science in physical therapy program in 2014, which she will complete this coming December. She took on a number of student leadership positions during her time in the program. She served as the class representative for the Department of Physical Therapy (2015-2017), President of the Physical Therapy 2018 Graduation Committee (2015-2017) and President of the Rehabilitation Medicine Students' Association (2016-2017). Taking on those roles meant advocating for her fellow students, working with the dean and faculty, and also promoting the profession on and off campus.

"I was truly honoured to have been nominated by one of my professors at the University of Alberta and to have been selected by Physiotherapy Alberta's Awards Committee," said Peterson. "I did not expect to receive such an important acknowledgement and I am very grateful to have been chosen for this award. It is extremely fulfilling to be recognized in this way."

Physiotherapy Alberta, the regulatory body and association for physiotherapy practitioners in Alberta, presents the award annually to a student who "demonstrates leadership within the student community through active involvement in professional/regulatory affairs and promotion of the profession within the general community."

"She is an asset to our profession, her student classmates and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine," said Mark Hall, associate chair and director of the UAlberta MSc physical therapy program, who nominated Peterson for the award. "She has done a great job and deserves the recognition."

Peterson will bring her enthusiasm for leadership and for the profession to her work after graduation. She plans to work in a private practice setting after graduation.

"I enjoy the variety of patient populations that it offers. I hope to work in an interdisciplinary clinic and have aspirations to own a clinic in the future. Additionally, I hope to assist in educating physiotherapy students, whether that involves teaching or being a clinical instructor," said Peterson.

"I cannot wait to start working and to have a direct impact on the rehabilitative process for patients!"