From pediatrics to geriatrics

Leah McCredie, MScOT '19: Spring Convocation Graduate Spotlight

27 May 2019

Why did you choose to study occupational therapy?

I chose to study OT after spending time shadowing an OT in pediatric outpatient rehabilitation after completing my undergrad. I have always had an interest in working in health care but did not necessarily see myself working in the typical roles you think of when you think of medicine (physician, nursing, etc.). OT is the perfect fit for me because it allows me to develop my knowledge within the health-care system, and work alongside a number of health-care professionals while still being very team-based, people-oriented and hands on.

Why did you choose the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine?

The U of A was an easy choice for me as I was born and raised in Southern Alberta, love being near my family and friends, and the U of A Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine had an exceptional reputation for the level of education it provides, not only in clinical knowledge but also in research. Another big draw for me was the fact they had the Calgary satellite campus. Being part of the Calgary campus was the perfect place for me, as I have always preferred small class sizes and was able to be close to home while continuing to work at my job in High River on the weekends.

What is one of your fondest memories from your time in the program?

My fondest memory of the OT program is the comradery and support between my classmates in Calgary. Being a small class meant we were able to develop close relationships and lifelong friendships. No matter what your life path was prior to the program, everyone came together to support, encourage and cheer each other on, and I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of it.

What did you do for your work placements?

"Being part of the Calgary campus was the perfect place for me… being a small class meant we were able to develop close relationships and lifelong friendships."

My work placements included time in a long-term care centre on the secured dementia units at Bethany Calgary, the student-led clinic at the Alberta Children's Hospital (ACH), an independent community placement (ICP) at Easter Seals Camp Horizon, and a cardiac unit at the Foothills Medical Centre. All those placements were very different and valuable in their own ways. I never pictured myself having an interest in the geriatric population; however, my placement at Bethany completely changed my mind about that. I developed a love for the role of occupational therapy within long-term care, which changed my idea of my career path moving forward. My placement at ACH allowed me to increase my confidence on taking the lead in creating and implementing care, as another student and I developed multiple programs in constraint-induced movement therapy for children. The ICP placement at Camp Horizon was hands down my favourite placement. This placement allowed me to develop my skills across all ages and abilities as we provided group programs, behaviour management, sensory interventions and staff education, all while living on site and taking part in the activities that camp has to offer. My final placement at the Foothills taught me discharge planning, physical assessments and how to work within an interdisciplinary team through co-treatments, ID rounds and family meetings.

How are you going to celebrate your graduation?

To celebrate graduation, I plan on spending time with my close friends and family. I am also planning a trip to Central America in the fall as a graduation present to myself!

What are you doing now / going to do next?

Currently, I am working full-time at Bethany Calgary (the location of my first placement!). This unit is for individuals between the ages of 18-60 with history of addiction, mental illness and medical comorbidities including Multiple Sclerosis, stroke and cancer. This has been an amazing experience, as I have been given the responsibility of developing all rehab programs as the only rehabilitation professional on staff. So far, we have 26 out of 28 beds filled, and my main roles are physical and cognitive programs, both individual and group, seating, wound care, managing two Therapy Assistants and fall prevention. It has been challenging and a steep learning curve, but I absolutely love this age group and truly think I have found my niche!

What does the future hold for you? What are your long-term aspirations?

I would love to continue working with the Young Adult Program at Bethany to continue to see it develop and grow. I hope to work with the residents to find them volunteer, work and education opportunities to ensure they have fulfilling lives and are able to pursue their interests and reach their goals, whatever they may be.