Jasmine’s experience recovering from injuries as a UBC soccer varsity athlete inspired her to pursue a career in physical therapy. Now, she’s able to combine her passion for sport and therapy at Canada Soccer, leading to the women’s football gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
What drew you to pursuing a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree at UBC?
I pursued the program because I was positively impacted by physio and I want to share it with others who have experienced and are overcoming health issues. I came from a soccer background and had my fair share of injuries. Although I was familiar with physio, what I really wanted to do was to continue to be involved with sport and physio seemed like an appropriate avenue to do that.
I was lucky to have some incredible physios that helped me achieve my goals in sport. A really important chapter of my life was playing varsity soccer at UBC and I had some serious knee injuries during that time, so I was really appreciative of physio and have been an advocate for the importance of the profession. When I got into the MPT program, I realized how diverse the possibilities are – you can work in public health, private health, and as part of the northern and rural cohort I also saw the shortcomings of rural health. My passion for physio definitely grew during the program as my eyes opened up to the world beyond sport physio.
What is one thing that you are taking with you from your experience in the MPT program?
The MPT program demonstrated how important it is to have a diverse healthcare team for patient-centered care. That experience translates to my work at Canada Soccer as a performance analyst. Even though I’m part of the coaching staff at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, we have a medical team, a technical team, an administrative team, and a mental team. We collaborate with all the teams to make decisions, reflecting how decisions are also made in public health or any health care setting. The MPT program showed me not just evidence-informed practice, but also a team-based approach in making those decisions and involving the patient, in my case the player.
What is one piece of advice you have for students entering the MPT program?
Take any opportunity to connect with your colleagues and friends. I’ve been reminded during the COVID-19 pandemic that while online learning is fantastic, the opportunity to learn in physical proximity beside your classmates, including lunch and walks between classes, is quite special. Also, make the most out of every moment you get to spend as a group. Life gets busy afterward graduation and although you make time, this is probably the only time that you’ll be with each other every single day and going through an experience that only that special group of 80-90 students can relate to. Really make sure you take the time to prioritize the people in the program.
As you look ahead, who inspires you?
Those around me thought it was unbelievable that I was doing school full time and also working part-time evenings as a soccer coach. What drove me was not only my absolute passion in the realm of sport and physio, but because of my parents who work really hard. When I was a kid, my dad woke up at 4 am every day for as long as I can remember before taking me to training. I think my mom and dad are big factors in driving my work ethic. Even when we get tired here in Tokyo, just knowing how hard they’ve always worked inspires me.
Who do you work for and what is your job title?
Performance analyst at Canada Soccer.
What are you doing at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics?
Working with the Canadian national soccer teams, I support the scouting pre-tournament and in tournament, I provide analysis, support the development of the game plan and game plan reviews, individual player connects, and film and share footage from practice.
How did your experience in the MPT program prepare you for working with Olympic athletes?
I remember doing my last placement at a stroke unit. Just like how everyone’s Olympic experience is very different, for the patients that I treated that was their Olympics. For them, their Olympics might be that they got up, are able to sit-to-stand, get to the bathroom on their own, or walk down the hallway. If they can achieve that based on their injuries then that’s a gold medal performance. I think the passion and drive for the athletes is the same as a patient that is recovering from a stroke and trying to achieve their dreams.
What else do you want to add about your experience?
Physio allows me to have a very flexible schedule to be able to pursue this opportunity with Canada Soccer and the Olympics. There are so many different possibilities of where I can work. I’m not sure if I worked in another job that this flexibility would be allowed and this reminds me of why I chose this profession.