Talking Tech with Sarah Wojkowski

Sarah Wojkowski is an Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science and the Director of Clinical Education for the MSc PT Program. Sarah is also currently a member of the MAC H2ope clinic Executive Council.

This is part 2 of a 2 part interview I did with Sarah about her work at McMaster University, technology in physiotherapy and her learnings through her career. Part 1 can be found here.

1. Are there any blogs, podcasts or websites that you regularly follow?

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario - I find I'm on that website weekly to keep up with the case of the month and with what's going on. We actually have a student who has completed her placement at the College as one of the role emerging placements! On the College's website, Shenda's Blog is a great one to follow.

I also regularly visit the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and Ontario Physiotherapy Association websites. It's prudent to stay on top of where the trends are and these websites give you the pulse of the profession.

2. What role do you believe technology can play in rehab for both practitioners and patients?

I think technology is the way of the future for PT. I think if we don't embrace it we are doing ourselves a grave disservice. As clinicians we know our patients are very tech saavy - they come with their smart phones that they use for resources and they're expecting us to have high level communication with the other providers they're seeing in real-time. So I think that if we don't keep up with technology and help our profession move forward then we're going to be seen as a historic profession. We won't be identified as a profession that can really contribute to change in the healthcare system. A few of the important components for physiotherapists include:
  • E-charting - what that means for each practice will be different, some will use FOTO and others will include Electronic Medical Records
  • Apps and website will be integral to patient education
  • Monitoring population health indicators - Health Quality Ontario's website does a very nice job with run time charts as well as other tools
3. McMaster University has a unique medical and rehabilitation program based around the Problem Based Learning (PBL) model.

a) How does this method of learning help prepare student for a career as a physiotherapist?

PBL gives students a skill set on which they can build as they move into independent practice. PBL asks students to identify research questions that are answerable using the PICO format.

It gives them the confidence and the knowledge to know where to go to find information that they may not be sure of. All of us who have transitioned to practice can remember a number of patient cases or situations where we thought "I haven't seen this and this is new to me", so being trained in the PBL format allows students to develop the skills and the knowledge of:
  • What do I know
  • What do I need to know
  • How do I go and find that information
  • How do I apply it in a timely manner
This is one of the unique attributes of our program here at McMaster. You learn to utilize the strengths and the knowledge of your peers and how to work closely with others through knowledge and resource sharing. PBL encourages collaboration with peers and this translates directly into clinical practice.

b) Do you believe this form of learning helps foster creativity and innovation?

In PBL there are a number of ways of getting to the same end point. There's the freedom and the latitude to apply the research and best practice in a way that is best for each individual. PBL encourages students to triangulate multiple sources of information and apply this to the individual patient in a way that is best for them and the health system. At the fundamental core is using evidence and information in a creative way to get to an outcome.

Registered Physiotherapist
Co-Founder at healthSwapp