While the Master of Rehabilitation Science program enables more leadership opportunities and career growth for graduates; few witness a newly created position within their field as Debra Watterworth MRSc’16 has.
As a Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist for the Chatham Kent Health Alliance, Watterworth is responsible for the development, implementation and delivery of the inpatient recovery program and champions the transformation to a recovery oriented model of care. This newly created position is directly a result of the pursuit of Watterworth’s dream of completing her Master’s degree.
Prior to undergoing her Master’s degree, Watterworth was working in a management position for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) where she supervised crisis response teams, mental health and justice programs, central intake, and case management to name a few. Despite feeling nervous about returning to school after close to thirty years of being in the workforce, Watterworth decided to return to school and embark on her Master’s studies via the UBC Online Master of Rehabilitation Science program – a program that is designed for working health professionals, like Watterworth who wish to gain the knowledge to impact care and shape future practice.
Since completing her post-graduate degree, Watterworth has witnessed huge strides in herself both personally and professionally, gaining confidence in her contributions and credibility in her voice. While undergoing her studies, Watterworth completed a directed study, Recovery Practices: Opportunities for acute mental health. A literature review, which examines the current status of recovery oriented practices in acute mental health settings internationally. She is hopeful that this study will provide guidance to Canadian practitioners who are just beginning to implement recovery oriented practice within this setting. Learning to utilize research has allowed for Watterworth to provide support for new approaches and ideas, as well as negotiate ways to incorporate these into practice. Watterworth has since won the 2016 Canada Pioneer Ambassador Award for her work, speaking at conferences nationwide.
When reflecting on challenges faced during her studies, Watterworth recalls having to take a leave of absence and delay graduation due to health reasons. Nonetheless, Watterworth was able to transition back to her studies successfully. ‘The MRSc program has a very strong sense of community and I never felt alone or unaccompanied during my time as a learner.’ Watterworth overcame these obstacles, and now holds a position that did not previously exist in her workplace.
Watterworth finds true meaning in her work and hopes to do something significant that will improve the lives of those with mental illness during her lifetime. Her personal interests and hobbies include spending time with her new grandson, swimming and preserving memories through digital books and scrapbooking. When asked about her bucket list, she commented ‘I don’t actually have a bucket list, I just want to fill that bucket with as many happy memories as possible.’