Inspiring generations of health care professionals

As the Faculty of Medicine celebrates the achievements of our fall graduates this week, it also recognizes the dedication and contributions of more than 9,000 clinical faculty members across the province who not only teach and inspire our students, but help prepare them for future practice.

A Clinical Faculty Instructor in the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, Nancy Forseth has been training students in the field of occupational therapy (OT) for the past 14 years. A strong believer in the power of knowledge translation, Forseth has taught more than 75 students and was recently awarded the 2018 Faculty of Medicine’s Clinical Faculty Award for Excellence in Community Practice Teaching.

Working alongside Forseth at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver, students learn the clinical skills needed to help clients – with a wide range of neuromuscular conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy – regain the strength, range of motion and cognitive skills they need to lead fuller lives.

Nancy Forseth

What sparked your interest in pursuing OT?

When I was in high school, I volunteered with a physiotherapist at our local hospital. One day an occupational therapist came in with a guitar and I asked her what she was doing. She said that she had a client with a hand injury who also plays guitar, so she was going to use the guitar to help him strength-en his hand. I remember saying, “That’s a job!?”

That was my first introduction to the profession and the more I looked into it, the more I realized it perfectly fit my nature and personality. I was especially drawn to the holistic approach of care –looking at all aspects of a person and whether they need help with a physical, mental health or cognitive issue. In OT, we can address all of these areas.

What inspired you to want to teach?

OT’s inherently teach as part of what they do. We teach our clients new ways of doing things or how to adapt to the changes they experience – I see teaching students as a natural extension of that.

We are also skilled at breaking down an activity to help clients build up their ability to a point where they feel comfortable and confident in what they are doing. I think it’s a similar process with students. As teachers, we need to be able to break down each skill we’re teaching so that students can under-stand and build-up their knowledge and skills to a point where they are fully trained and confident in what they doing.

How do clinical instructors help students prepare for future practice?

I see us as the link between what the students are being taught within the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and what everyday practice looks like in a variety of settings. We teach them how to translate the knowledge they’ve learned in school into practical settings, as well as give them the opportunities to practice and refine those skills.

Most memorable teaching moment

Second-year master of occupational therapy student, Brittany Marcoux, shows how simple modifications can help clients prepare nutritious meals.

I really enjoy watching the full circle of knowledge translation. Seeing students take the knowledge and skills they’ve learned and apply it to client care plans. It’s incredible to see their reactions when they realize how much their work has really improved someone’s quality of life.

Most rewarding part about teaching

I have taught many students and a number of them are now working at GF Strong or within the great-er Vancouver Coastal Health system. It’s amazing to see them excel at what they are doing and passing on their knowledge to clients or the next generation of OT students. To see that continuation of knowledge being passed down from generation to generation is pretty neat.

Best advice

Never stop learning. Always be curious and push to learn as much as you can because it will keep you excited about your profession and help you become the best clinician that you can be – which will help you better serve the needs of the populations that you are working with.