Jami Bennet - Physiotherapist

Written by Evan Duxbury

How did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in Texas where I did a Bachelor in Bio-medical Science at Texas A&M University. From my studies I developed an interest in multiple sclerosis, and pursued a PhD in immunology at Northwestern University. I came to Vancouver to do a postdoc at UBC with an interest in inflammation and neurological disease. During that time I participated in an MS training program & research group at UBC,and started to think more about how activity & exercise affects MS. There just wasn't a lot of research evidence in that area, but there was a lot of support for a role of PT in care of MS and stroke. I wondered how my career could evolve to treating people, so I applied to the PT program at UBC. I was fortunate to do several placements at Providence& in stroke and MS care, so when I graduated in 2012 I knew public practice was a good fit for me.

What’s your role at PHC?

I’m a workload float physiotherapist, which means I cover various program areas throughout Providence.

You've worked at several different sites. What’s been your favorite?

I have loved my time at St Paul’s, it has a great environment, and I saw some very complicated and interesting cases. Interacting with vulnerable individuals from the downtown east side and geriatric populations means there’s a great variety of issues coming in, and as a result I got to work with a lot of different clinical specialists. It’s a great place for new graduates with mentoring available.

Holy Family Hospital interests me for the neuro & rehab component. I haven’t spent a great deal of time there, but that’s where a lot of the neuro rehab work happens, which ties in with a lot of the research I've done.

What’s the coolest thing you've learned?

I’ve been amazed by the potential for people to change.Through rehab and with a resilient attitude, patients can do what was thought impossible and can overcome so much. As a care provider, a PT’s challenge is to interact in a way that facilitates that change.

What’s been the biggest surprise?

The singular focus of almost every patient on being able to walk really surprised me. Wanting to walk and use the bathroom independently is a huge motivator for a lot of the patients I’ve worked with in acute care to work with a physio. Helping somebody make it to the toilet isn’t glamorous, but it’s incredibly rewarding to make that progress with them. It usually lays the groundwork of confidence and motivation to get moving.

What about working at PHC do you think is most attractive to new grads?

Physios at Providence Health Care are still organized into a physiotherapy department, whereas most other Health Authorities break physios up into program areas. This allows new grads more breadth and exposure to different areas of physiotherapy. It also gives you more learning opportunities since you’re working with senior therapists and clinical specialists from many disciplines.  I think the opportunity for new grads to keep their existing skills sharp and learn new ones is very attractive. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The people, especially the interactions I have with patients.Being a part of the experience with a patient who walks for the first time after a stroke or recovers their independence after illness is powerful. It’s very rewarding to help people achieve their goals and it inspires me too.

If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?

Needing to plan vacations so far ahead of time is very limiting. Working in the public sector without much seniority leaves verylittle room for spontaneity and I feel like I miss a lot of social opportunities as a result.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

My background in research is what pushed me to the public side of PT and will probably keep me here. I’d like work in areas focused on neuro at PHC, growing into a role as a clinical specialist with an ability to do research. I like teaching, so I’d look for opportunities to share my knowledge and mentor younger PTs.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give PT students?

Be open minded and try everything you can. Be a sponge for information and you’ll find you can learn something from any person and situation.Be humble.


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