At the confluence of healthcare, education and technology

Anthony, Joseph 2015

Joseph Anthony, Clinical Associate Professor and Virtual Patient Project PT Lead

I have long been interested in healthcare, in education, and in technology. How exciting to be at a point in history where there is a confluence of these three! While this might seem to be the case in the early years of the twenty-first century, a little reflection will show that there has long been a confluence of healthcare, education and technology. Think of the excitement that must have been born amongst healthcare educators (and others) as they observed the development of the moveable type printing press in the 1040s in the East and the 1450s in the West. I think the exciting thing for me is the change in technology – how advances in technology enable us to do now what we could not previously do. This is not unlike the changes in education enabled by the printing press! I am certain that such a change resulted in anxiety then, just as there is now rightly, uncertainty regarding the educational value of some modern technologies. I think time and experience will sort the wheat from the chaff here, and I believe that by thoughtfully embracing the “affordances of technology” we will be able to enhance learning.

Not very long after moving to Vancouver, I was asked to help out in the Physical Therapy program at UBC. We were in the old School of Rehabilitation Sciences, located on the third floor of the Koerner Pavilion at the time, and I was asked by Alison Hoens to be her teaching assistant for the theory and practice of the application of electrophysical agents. I have always been grateful to Alison for this opportunity! For the past 20 years I have retained my interest and involvement in that course, initially as TA and for the past decade or so as principle instructor. I write twenty years, but in fact, for the period mid-1997 – early-2000 there was a short break in this activity as I was invited to join the Kuwait-Dalhousie project – an initiative of the Kuwait Ministry of Health and Dalhousie University which involved taking a team of forty-two Canadian rehabilitation professionals to Kuwait to work with local healthcare professionals and thereby enhance the rehabilitation services throughout Kuwait. In addition to teaching on campus, I have mentored many students in clinical placement, both in Canada and Australia, where I worked prior to moving to Vancouver.

My excitement around the changes in technology in education centre on the innovations gathered under the label “blended learning” – a composite way of teaching and learning where some material is encountered and mastered on-line, and the learner is engaged with the remainder in face-to-face activities. This approach demonstrates improved learning outcomes. In my current role as Health Professions Education Coordinator in the Faculty of Medicine, I work with faculty members to innovate in, and evaluate, the use of technology in education. Passing on knowledge to coming generations might be thought a critical function of a civilized society, and serves to enrich and ennoble both the givers and the receivers.

The more personal bits…

My own formal education has included completing a PhD in Experimental Medicine at UBC. My work was in the area of cell signalling, since as a result of my teaching, I had long been interested in the cellular response to electrophysical agents.

I trained in Physical Therapy in Australia at the University of Queensland, and worked for a short time in Brisbane. I moved to Canada a little more than 21 years ago, working clinically at Shaughnessy Hospital and then St Paul’s hospital / Mt St Joseph’s.

One more thing I would share is the dual-hemispheric skill I regularly practice – singing with Chor Leoni, Vancouver’s internationally known, award-winning male voice choir. I joined Diane Loomer and the guys over 20 years ago, and have had a wonderful time making music in ensemble throughout these years. We’ve certainly had some memorable times together, and I believe we’ve brought joy into peoples’ lives and that really is another important part of what life is about, I think.