Year in Review 2020 – UBC Department of Physical Therapy


It gives me great pleasure to write the introduction for this last weekly update of the year! I think many of us will be glad to see the end of 2020 and look forward to much better things in 2021; the vaccine is certainly a very nice Christmas present. As I look back on 2021, I am truly amazed at the resilience, commitment, and dedication of so many people who pulled together to keep our Department functional during these extraordinary times; from staff working on kitchen tables, to faculty moving research and educational programs to largely remote formats, to our amazing clinical partners who continue to support our students and research endeavors no matter what.

As you read through this update, I think you will be amazed by how much we did achieve when sometimes it felt as if we were going nowhere! A huge and heartfelt thank you to all who made this year and all our successes possible and who continue to be our allies and supporters; we could not do this without you. I wish you all happy holidays despite the restrictions and look forward to our continued team effort to “make it happen” in 2021!

Sue Murphy
Head, Department of Physical Therapy

We would like to acknowledge all of the amazing promotions that happened in 2020:

Michael Hunt

Promoted to Full Professor.



Kristin Campbell

Promoted to Full Professor.


Alex Scott

Promoted to Full Professor.


Vicky Chen

Promoted to Sr Program Asst.


We would like to welcome all of the new faculty and staff members who joined us in 2020:

Gary Kujawinski

Student Services Officer (joined 2019, became permanent
in 2020)

Jonathan Kwok

Classroom Support Program Assistant (joined 2019,
became permanent in 2020)

Keith Warner-Harder

Classroom Support Program Assistant

Stacy Wells

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Amir Doroudian

Education Technology & Materials Manager

Bowen Li

Finance Coordinator

Becky Harnett

MPT-N/MOT-N Administrative Lead

Jaclyn Sawtell

MPT-N Program Assistant

David Anekwe

Assistant Professor of Teaching

Helen Honig

Clinical Instructor & PTRC Physiotherapist

Sally-Anne Stelling

Clinical Instructor & PTRC Physiotherapist

A look back in 2020:

MPT Program

The MPT Program started off the year strong with over 300 applicants for the 100 seats in the 2020-2022 cohort.

In March, the top candidates of these hopeful future PTs were interviewed for the next cohort of the MPT Program, including applicants for the new MPT-North cohort.

Due to COVID-19, students, faculty and staff shifted to working, teaching and attending classes remotely wherever possible. Clinical placement schedules were impacted by restrictions in the clinical setting while lab classes and many and research programs were temporarily put on hold as faculty came up with creative ways to safely continue operations.

In July, MPT students returned to clinical placements and in-person labs. Students physically distance themselves wherever possible and wear PPE, as well as limiting contact with their peer group and working more closely with their designated partner(s).

Together with the Faculty of Medicine and the PT community, we virtually welcomed 101 new students to the UBC Master of Physical Therapy Program at the end of August, which included the first 20 students in our new MPT-North cohort at UNBC.

Students began a new year of classes, both remotely and on-site, with video connected lab sessions between the UBC and UNBC campuses.

In November, we congratulated the MPT class of 2020 as they graduated despite the Covid challenges. This year’s ceremonies were unique in that they were held virtually via Zoom.

With the first fall term of the MPT-North program successfully coming to an end, we would like to express our gratitude and thanks to all who brought the vision of the MPT-N program to life.

Clinical Education Successes of 2020:

We were successful in securing sufficient level 3 placements for the entire 2020 cohort amidst a global pandemic and graduating the 2020 cohort.

Our 2019-2021 cohort ended 2020 with their first clinical placement. Our incredible clinical partners stepped up to offer sufficient clinical placements for these level 1 placements across all practice settings and all health regions.

The clinical education team offered virtual clinical education workshops and in-services through 2020 to support our clinical educators in adapting to clinical education during covid-19.

We had a record number of applications for Clinical Faculty Appointments in 2020 to support the expansion and our distributed program in Prince George.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we brought 19 new clinical sites on board in 2020.

Through ongoing collaboration with our UBC, provincial and national partners, the clinical education team developed a number of resources to support clinical educators in supporting our MPT students on placement during COVID-19.


Congratulations to all of the MSc/PhD students that graduated in 2020:

  • Ryan Falck – PhD (supervised by Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose)
  • Lisanne ten BrinkePhD (supervised by Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose)
  • Kimberly Bennett – MSc (supervised by Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose)
  • Briana Chau – MSc (supervised by Dr Lara Boyd)
  • Kaitlin Attard – MSc (supervised by Dr Lara Boyd)
  • Faraz Damji – MSc (supervised by Dr Alex Scott)
  • Kendra Zadravec – MSc (supervised by Dr Kristin Campbell)
  • Anne Delaisse – MSc (supervised by Dr Suzanne Huot)

Faculty members of the Department rose to challenges in research. They adapted ongoing studies, started new initiatives to ensure that patients receive rehabilitation services, provided information to manage chronic health conditions, assisted with diagnoses, and treated secondary health issues caused by the Coronavirus.

Dr Janice Eng received a grant to develop a COVID-19 Toolkit for people with spinal cord injuries. This toolkit will include sections on physical activity at home, mental health, and keeping safe.

Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose received funding from CIHR related to COVID for her project titled “Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on brain health by using Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).” Findings will help provide critical information on the impact of the pandemic on this vulnerable population and will inform decision-making on how to improve the diagnosis and treatment of older adults with COVID-19.

Cancer rehabilitation researchers awarded $2.37M through inaugural cancer survivorship grants.

New research from Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose shows a home-based exercise program for seniors can help prevent falls and reduce injury.

Coronavirus: How COVID-19 could damage the brain by Global News featuring Teresa Liu-Ambrose. She is part of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging COVID-19 Brain Health.

The 2020 Top Doctoral Student and Rising Star Award Recipients were announced with 3 of the 5 rising star awards were won by trainees from our department, and Shannon Lim snagged the top graduating doctoral student award.

UBC Telerehab program brings care closer to home. The Faculty of Medicine’s Program for Excellence in Telerehabilitation Education and Research (PETER), launched in 2018, educates clinical faculty and physical therapy students in virtual care to expand access to services in rural and remote areas across British Columbia (B.C.).

UBC Physical Therapy & Research Clinic in 2020

The UBC Physical Therapy and Research Clinic celebrated one year in business in September.

The team supported 17 MPT students through clinical placements in 2020 with five students completing their final placement in the PTRC. Employing a student-led model, the students are challenged and supported to stretch their clinical reasoning, adopt peer coaching strategies, and provide effective PT care to a diverse patient population under a fee-for-service model.

The PTRC team is looking forward to expanding partnerships and collaborative practice opportunities throughout the community to offer rich learning for students and comprehensive care for clients.

View all of our news from 2020