Imaan Shivji, MPT’23

Imaan Shivji (she/her) is a recent graduate of the UBC Master of Physical Therapy-North program based in Prince George, BC. She was born and raised in Burnaby, BC and pursued her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Imaan recently obtained her Canadian Orthopaedic Division Advanced Integrated Musculoskeletal (AIM) Level 1 certification. She loves to stay active by spending time outdoors, going to the gym and swimming.

Outside of her passion for health and fitness, Imaan enjoys connecting with others through creating music, playing guitar and collaborating with artists. In the past few years, she has worked on writing original songs and performing at local coffee houses and fundraisers. Her music can be found on all streaming services.

What drew you to the Master of Physical Therapy-North program at UBC?
Growing up in Burnaby, BC, I grew up with the privilege of easy access to healthcare services. When I travelled to Ontario for my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, I had the opportunity to partake in volunteer work at a rehabilitation centre for adults with neurological conditions. Through my work at McMaster’s Physical Activity Centre for Excellence (PACE), I fostered connections with many individuals who struggled with their healthcare journey and often lived in remote areas with a lack of access to healthcare services. This experience was an eye opener, because I realized the lasting impact that can result from inaccessibility of healthcare services, such as physiotherapy.

Along with my passion for enhancing the quality of life of others through movement, I fostered a new interest in working with underserved populations and individuals in rural communities. This experience became a stepping stone to joining the Northern cohort of the UBC MPT program. In addition to this, I was really drawn to the idea of exploring the northern parts of the province, and the beautiful nature that BC has to offer.

How has studying in the MPT program made an impact on you?
I will always cherish the lifelong connections I have made with my classmates during my time in the MPT program. I am so fortunate to have been a part of the Northern cohort, which was comprised of a close-knit group of 20 students, and a welcoming, supportive faculty. When moving to a new town without knowing a single person, it can be quite daunting. However, I feel lucky to say that right from my first day in Prince George, I felt at home because I was surrounded by warm smiles and genuine faces. Many of the connections I have made over the past two years have developed into lifelong friendships, and I am grateful to be entering the physiotherapy profession with such kind and intelligent colleagues.

What was something you learned in the MPT program that surprised you?
I found my time spent on clinical placement was extremely valuable and a great way to apply what was learned in the classroom. With the support of some great preceptors, I was exposed to a variety of practice styles and settings, such as pediatric oncology, arthritis programs, neurological rehabilitation, acute care, and private clinics. Growing up, I only really understood physiotherapy as being the private clinic setting, but being able to witness and learn about our wide scope of practice has been truly incredible.

What is your favorite memory from your time at UBC?
It is really difficult to pick just one favourite memory from my journey over the past two years. While in Prince George, I was fortunate enough to explore the surrounding areas of Northern BC. From snowshoeing in Smithers, to skating on the stunning lakes of Jasper, to horseback riding in the Cariboo Region, and hiking in Williams Lake, I have more good memories to look back on than I can count.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in all the unique patient encounters I have experienced through my clinical placements. It is always an honour to be a part of someone’s rehabilitation journey, from start to finish. I recall one patient I worked with suffered a stroke and lost their ability to walk. After five weeks of intensive rehabilitation, they were able to walk a few steps with the help of equipment and physical support. I remember seeing the joy on the patient’s and their loved ones’ faces as they expressed their gratitude to our team. It is moments like these that truly reinforce my passion for the physiotherapy field.

What does a healthy society mean to you?
I believe that a healthy society strives for the advocacy of health and wellness in multiple dimensions. Burnout and mental health challenges are present more than ever, and it is important that we work together as a society to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions. Being in the physiotherapy field, I truly believe that exercise and staying active are equally important for both physical and mental health, and that the best way to stay active is to find a form of exercise that is most enjoyable. Additionally, a healthy society is one where everyone is treated equally and with respect.

What are your plans after graduation?
I can confidently say that through my journey over the last two years, I have grown and developed my professional toolkit that I look forward to utilizing in practice. I cherish the skills I have developed from working in rural communities and I know that they will enable me to grow as a clinician. I plan to work in an orthopedic setting where I can follow patients through their rehabilitation journey, helping them regain function and return to activities they enjoy. I have a special interest in arthritis management and concussion care, both of which I was lucky to be exposed to while on placement. I look forward to continuing my education through various coursework over the coming years to provide up-to-date and quality care for patients. Lifelong learning is most definitely a large part of the physiotherapy profession, and I am grateful to be entering such an impactful and vast field.

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