What got you interested in occupational therapy?
As a Tibetan Canadian, I was raised to strive for compassion by developing genuine sympathy for the suffering of others and the will to help remove their pain. I decided to pursue Occupational Therapy (OT) because compassion was evident in the client-centered practice of the profession. Occupational therapists engage with clients with the intention of understanding and addressing their individual needs, and it all comes from a place of empathy and the desire to help. I strongly believe that occupational therapists embody the true essence of compassion.
What will you remember most about your time in the program?
The people I met in my program were selfless, compassionate and extremely considerate of each other. Coming from a large undergraduate program, I did not have the opportunity to get to know my classmates. I really appreciated that the OT program fostered an environment where students had opportunities to build meaningful relationships through study groups, mentorship and student-led initiatives. The thing I’ll miss most is making memories with the people in the program.
What are your areas of interest?
One of my areas of interest is focused on community participation and community mobility, particularly moving around in the community using public transportation. Affordable and accessible transportation is an essential facilitator for participation in activities outside one’s home. My MScOT research project focused onunderstanding the paratransit (door to door public transportation) experience of users with cognitive impairments. I was lucky that I got the opportunity to collaborate with local transit and community brain injury agencies on this project.After graduation, I intend on working with my research partner to publish our paper which was completed earlier this year.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to be working in mental health centres and/or homeless shelters in Toronto to help people live as independently as possible in the community while leading meaningful and productive lives. I would love to be a part of the shift in service delivery from hospitals to communities through supporting people with their recovery – whether it’s obtaining or maintaining employment, going to school, or living independently.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
I encourage incoming students to seek non-traditional opportunities that challenge them. During my placement, I got the chance to work in an organization that didn’t have an existing role for an occupational therapist and to conduct a self-developed research project. These were two of the most transformative experiences for me as a student and they were critical to my personal and professional growth. Although they were challenging, these experiences gave me opportunities to pioneer and expand the profession into an alternative model of practice, and that is something I’ll carry with me into the rest of my career.
Tsering Wangmo in conversation with writer Julia Soudat, Faculty of Medicine Communications, October 2018