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Congratulations, Class of 2023!

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 on completing your Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degrees! We celebrate your perseverance and dedication, which have led you to this momentous achievement, and we know you will have a great impact on the world as you enter the next chapter as occupational therapists.

Six of our graduating students from our UTM and St. George campuses reflect on two years in the program and what they have planned for the future.

Riya Shah, co-valedictorian, UTSG

image of Riya Shah

Seeing clients go from a vulnerable, guarded state to laughing and engaging in meaningful activities again that is the true beauty of occupational therapy and it’s what I love about this profession.  

In school, I was astounded by the need to collaborate with my interprofessional peers and to learn that occupational therapy can be used in all areas of life. Most importantly, I reflected on the need for more people of colour in the health care community, and I am happy to contribute in a meaningful way through occupational therapy. 

I have been inspired by so many occupational therapists, all in different areas of work, and have had opportunities to advocate for the profession and vulnerable communities with the help of my faculty and peers. It has been so inspiring to learn and grow with my peers over the past two years. 

I plan on continuing to advocate for my clients and marginalized communities, and engage in a variety of occupational therapy roles, both clinical and non-clinical, to demonstrate the true essence and need for occupational therapy in my community.  

Antonia Bellefleur, co-valedictorian, UTM

image of Antonia Bellefleur

I was inspired to pursue occupational therapy because I appreciate the value placed on holistic care and addressing the person factors when providing therapy. Our occupational therapy lens is what makes us unique. 

I’ve learned so much these past couple of years. I didn’t know I had ‘spare parts’ — hurray for palmaris longus! I remember nervously preparing for our first initial interview with a mock patient. It’s wonderful to reflect on how far we’ve come since then. 

Now that I’ve graduated, I am currently working as an occupational therapist in acute hand therapy at a hospital and am excited to continue my learning in this field. 

Zoë Avril Smith, UTSG

image of Zoe Avril Smith

I was inspired to pursue a career in occupational therapy after working alongside several fantastic occupational therapists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. I loved how their work was so tangible, holistic, and client-centered. 

During my time in the program, I was surprised to learn how many settings an occupational therapist can work in and how the number of opportunities continues to grow. 

I completed one of my clinical placements at Amar Seva Sangam, a non-profit rehabilitation centre founded and run by people with disabilities in rural South India. My experience here was so memorable and enriching. 

Since completing the program, I have taken some time to travel and visit family in Scotland. I’ve recently started looking for a job in mental health. Most of my career has been within the mental health and social service sectors, and I am passionate about supporting individuals with mental health issues. 

Kaitlyn Wagner, UTM

image of Kaitlyn Wagner

I was several years into a different career when I learned about occupational therapy and I immediately knew that it was the career for me. I wanted to work with people and use my skills to empower them to do the things they need to and want to do in their daily lives. Since then, I’ve been surprised to learn about how broad the scope of occupational therapy is and how many different settings occupational therapists can work in.  

During the past two years, I was extremely fortunate to have a variety of placements including acute stroke, community paediatrics, forensic mental health and a geriatric outpatient clinic, where I had the privilege of meeting many different clients. There is no better feeling than working with a client to help them overcome barriers and reach their goals.  

I am currently working for FunctionAbility in the community with clients who have traumatic and acquired neurological injuries and severe orthopaedic injuries. I find this work to be extremely meaningful and I look forward to continuously improving my clinical skills in this role.  

Niki Odorico, UTSG

image of Niki Oderico

I was drawn to occupational therapy because it’s multifaceted; addressing the physical, mental, cognitive, emotional and social aspects of people’s lives. I appreciate the diversity within the field and the opportunities to work with people from various backgrounds and age groups. 

While occupational therapy is often associated with hospitals and rehabilitation settings, I have learned that occupational therapists are equally well-suited to work with individuals, businesses, and communities to create safe environments that enable people to participate in their meaningful activities. 

Some of the most memorable moments in the program have been my fieldwork placements. I worked in the emergency department in a level one trauma hospital, in medicine and oncology inpatient units, in a men’s prison, and in a children’s hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Each of these placements pushed me to apply what I had learned in our lectures in distinct and innovative ways. 

Currently, I am a first year PhD student in the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute under the supervision of Nick Reed. Throughout my PhD studies, I am hoping to develop return-to-play concussion guidelines for children aged 3 to 12. Following my PhD, I would like to work as a clinician scientist and a professor in the field of occupational therapy. 

Kaila Jodoin, UTM

image of Kaila Jodoin

I have had the privilege of learning about occupational therapy from a young age as my mom has been an occupational therapist at my hometown hospital for over 30 years. I was inspired by her work growing up and the meaningful impact she has on her clients, so when it came to choosing my own career, becoming an occupational therapist was an easy choice to make.  

During the program, I have been able to work with amazing peers, many of whom I now call my closest friends. I will never forget the many hours spent working with my study group members throughout the program. These experiences have helped me to grow into the clinician I am today. 

The program, alongside Northern Ontario School of Medicine University, supported me in completing three fieldwork placements in my hometown in Northern Ontario. These opportunities allowed me to build connections in my home community and have led to my current job at my local hospital.  

My final fieldwork placement was a student-initiated Leadership, Emerging, Advocacy and Program Development (LEAP) placement at my local Community Paramedicine Program. Here I was able to create a new permanent occupational therapy role with hopes to expand this to other community paramedicine programs across the province.  

Mentorship Course Connects Students with Occupational Therapists


Shone Joos, assistant professor, teaching stream, is part of a team which instructs the Mentorship and Interprofessional Education Course in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program, connecting our students with experienced occupational therapists who share their insight into the profession and support learner professional and interprofessional development.

“I was a mentor myself years ago and I’m still in touch with some of my mentees. I found the experience very transformative for me. You create a significant bond with your students – you get to hear their stories and watch them grow. I was so proud to see their development over their two years in the program,” says Joos.

About the Mentorship and Interprofessional Education Course

All students in the MScOT program are enrolled in this two-year course where they meet with an assigned mentor every two weeks during their academic terms. Mentors are experienced occupational therapists who work in varying practice areas – private practice, hospital, community organizations, research, etc. – and volunteer their time to support small groups of students.

One unique aspect of the mentorship course is the amount of time our students engage with their mentors. “There are other mentorship courses in different health care programs, but I really haven’t seen another one where mentees and mentors meet every two weeks across the whole program,” says Joos. Mentors spend two years watching our students grow – from their first days in the program to their final fieldwork placement.

Our mentor groups function like communities of practice where members feel a sense of belonging and safety. By creating a space for students to engage with experienced practitioners, students are better able to develop their professional identity.

Response to the course

The response to the course has been overwhelmingly positive from mentees and mentors alike. Our students appreciate the time spent with their mentors reflecting on their experiences, what they have learned and how they have evolved professionally throughout the program.

Working with a mentor allows our students to start building a network and a community. It helps our students to feel more connected to the profession and socializes them, so they are better prepared to begin working in the field.” says Joos.

If you are a practicing occupational therapist and are interested in mentoring our students, you can email Shone Joos at to learn more about the Mentorship and Interprofessional Education course.

headshot of Judith Friedland and the cover of her book: There Was A Time For Everything

Judith Friedland reflects on her life and career in new memoir

Judith Friedland has worn many hats throughout her life. After earning her diploma in physical and occupational therapy from the University of Toronto in 1960, she went on to work as an occupational therapist, marry and become a mother, earn a PhD, and teach in the department of occupational therapy at U of T, moving through the ranks from lecturer up to professor and department chair.

In her recently published memoir, There Was a Time for Everything, Friedland reflects on her life and career, and how she has spent her time post-retirement. She spoke with writer Rachel LeBeau about the book and some of its themes, and the process of writing and editing.  

What inspired you to write There Was a Time for Everything? 

After I published my book on the early history of occupational therapy in Canada (Restoring the Spirit), I realized that I had more to say and that writing a book was doable. I thought that my life was a bit unusual and thought it could be good to write a memoir. The editor of that first book agreed and suggested I start by writing some vignettes about what I had found to be significant in my life. I started writing in 2014 and then the book took on a life of its own. I got into all these themes – my mother dying when I was very young and the issue of feeling “other” from that point on, being Jewish in non-Jewish schools and work communities, and my education and work in a little-known profession. But there was also a theme that was common to many women of my generation. After marrying young and supporting my husband in his academic career and enjoying motherhood, I soon wondered, “Where am I going to be after all this?” That story seems to resonate with many women but is one that we never read about. We know about women who’ve done amazing things, but we don’t know about ordinary women and all the things that we do in our lives. So, I thought my story was worth telling. 

In your memoir, you write about having it all – what does “having it all” mean to you? 

In my view, the part that follows “having it all” is “just not all at once.” Anyone trying to have it all has to give up something. I was lucky in the way my life unfolded. I really thoroughly enjoyed being a wife and mother, building a home and all that went with it. I would not have given that up for a minute. But once my three children were all in school, I was able to go back to work part-time and back to school part-time, and, after about five years of clinical work, start my academic career. It all just seemed to work out so that at the end of the day, it seems to me that I’ve had it all.  

What did you learn about yourself as you went through the process of reflecting on your life to write this memoir? 

I think I learned more about myself as I was editing than when I was writing. In those later stages of editing, I had to keep asking myself, “Is this an important part of my story, does it add to what I want to say, is it necessary?” For example, in describing my time in high school, I had initially named a teacher and at the end, I took his name out. It wasn’t necessary to name him, and it could be hurtful. That was an interesting exercise. I also thought some of the stories I wanted to tell weren’t the most flattering about me, either, but I thought I should share them anyways because they are real life, so I left them in. And I wrote about getting knocked down and getting back up and that made me realize that I knew how to persevere. So that was a good thing I learned about myself. 

How do you think your career as an occupational therapist has shaped your life? 

Most of my practice, my teaching and my research have been within the mental health and psychosocial field, and I carry a lot of that around with me. The other day I went for coffee with a friend who had just had a fracture from a fall. The fact that we were out doing something social was good for her because she can’t go out by herself right now and I know how important it is to her recovery to have social support and not feel isolated. Adjusting to whatever life has in store is something I guess I picked up early on and I think it has stayed with me, no matter what I’ve done in my life and career. 

The other thing I learned, especially working in mental health, is the importance of interpersonal relationships. You don’t really get anywhere in health care without having a good relationship with the person you’re trying to help. That mindset has always stayed with me in my role as an administrator when I was the chair of my department, and in my interactions with family. 

What advice do you have for young women entering the workforce, especially health care, today? 

My advice is to try to find a job that you think will engage you; something where you can learn and grow. If it’s in health care, you need to go in with an open mind and try to understand the system – but when you do see what you perceive as unjust, do what you can to change it. Throughout my career, I have seen the undervaluing of women and their work and it’s something that needs to be challenged.  That has been true whether I was in health care or academia. There have been salary inequities, promotion inequities, funding inequities, and so on. Health professions, in general, are amazing professions – they’re stimulating and you learn something new every day. You are also signing on to help make change – not only in the world of the patients you are working with but also in the larger society. 

I would encourage women not to worry too much about taking on multiple roles or changing roles. You can get a lot of satisfaction from experiencing different things in life – whether that’s pursuing a career, continuing in school, being a wife and mother – these can all lead to fulfillment. It’s ok to do different things. You don’t need to take a linear approach to life. 

How has occupational therapy changed over your career, and what trends do you see emerging in the future? 

Occupational therapy has changed in some ways – and not at all in others. Our roots became firmly established during World War I and are now stronger than ever. We still focus on the centrality of occupation, on what people need to do and want to do in their lives to bring or maintain meaning. We still work with patients to help them find ways to cope and manage after illness, injury, or disability. Medicine and health care have changed throughout my career in so many wonderful ways, especially in acute care, but at the same time, I think we’ve lost some of the broader picture and don’t appreciate the importance of helping people adjust to their altered circumstances and prevent further health issues. I like to think that the health care system will soon understand the essential roles played by various members of the health care team, including occupational therapists, in facilitating that adjustment. 

There is a lot of great progress being made within occupational therapy. I’m particularly proud of my profession and how it is taking on broader social issues, for example, how our occupational lens is helping to address homelessness or mental health in the workplace. Occupational therapy students are learning more about health inequities and how our work contributes to improving lives of vulnerable populations.   

Is there anything else you want readers to know about your book? 

I want them to know that the content will be of interest not only to occupational therapists but to a wide variety of readers. Some will enjoy the historical look at life in Toronto in the 1940s and 50s and what it was like for me growing up in that time. Others may be interested in my years at the university as a student and faculty member, or my stories of married life. I think many will be interested in the gender issues at play and the feminist lens I have used in describing my life. I’ve had feedback on the book from women old and young who seem to relate to my story, and also some from husbands who admit they didn’t realize the impact of the imbalance in their relationships. There’s a lot about aging and so-called retirement and travel and gardening, and, of course, family.   

You can find Judith’s book, There Was a Time for Everything: A Memoir, through the University of Toronto Press and in bookstores and libraries. 

Inaugural International Forum on COVID Rehabilitation Research

The Rehabilitation Science Research Network for COVID held its inaugural International Forum on COVID Rehabilitation Research on Friday, April 21, 2023 at the University of Toronto. 

The Network, co-led by Jill Cameron and Kelly O’Brien, led the planning and implementation of this Forum. This hybrid (online and in-person) event brought together over 250 people from over 20 countries to hear from more than 20 guest speakers who presented emerging evidence in COVID rehabilitation, spanning acute COVID to Long COVID.  

Attendees included persons with lived experiences, clinicians, researchers, policy stakeholders, representatives from community-based organizations and funders who contributed to the rich discussions. 

The Forum aimed to exchange knowledge of COVID rehabilitation research and practices between international experts and disseminate knowledge far and wide. The Forum also provided opportunities to establish new and strengthen existing research collaborations and partnerships in the field of COVID rehabilitation. Throughout the course of the day, attendees engaged in discussions about perspectives on emerging issues and research priorities in COVID rehabilitation.  These priorities will help to guide the future activities of the Network in the year ahead. 

The Forum included a keynote presentation from Todd Davenport, Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, on his instrumental work on safe rehabilitation for people living with Long COVID. A second keynote included a discussion panel comprised of community leaders who shared their experiences in COVID rehabilitation research. Embedded within the keynotes were two research evidence sessions, with five speakers each, who shared current research related to disability, rehabilitation approaches and interventions, and models of care in the context of acute and Long COVID. 

This Forum, funded by Temerty Faculty of Medicine, was a collaboration with the multiple partners and members of the Network who have been instrumental in advancing evidence and practice in COVID rehabilitation, including Long COVID Physio, the Rehabilitative Care Alliance, Patient-Led Research Collaborative, and FISIOCAMERA. 

Find more information about the Forum, including links to the video recordings from the speaker sessions, online.  

Nick Reed, Associate Professor, awarded tenure

Photo of Prof. Nick ReedThe department of occupational science and occupational therapy is pleased to announce that Nick Reed has been awarded tenure, effective July 1, 2023.


Prof. Reed joined the department in 2019 as an associate professor and currently leads the OAK Concussion Lab, which explores concussion outcomes, advocacy and knowledge. Prof. Reed’s work focuses on developing, delivering and evaluating research, educational and clinical programming specific to youth and concussion.


Recently, Prof. Reed was awarded the Dr. Dina Brooks Award for Continuing/Sustained Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision and Mentorship from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto for his dedication to enhancing graduate student learning.


Congratulations, Nick, on this major milestone achievement in your academic career! We are proud to have you as part of our faculty.

In Memoriam: Patti Fleury


Alumna Patti Fleury (seated, at centre) was among the first group of alumni members of Governing Council, pictured in 1972. (Photo: Robert Lansdale Photography)
Alumna Patti Fleury (seated, at centre) was among the first group of alumni members of Governing Council, pictured in 1972. (Photo: Robert Lansdale Photography)


It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Patti Fleury (Philip), an alumna of the Physical and Occupational Therapy program at the University of Toronto.


After receiving her diploma in Physical and Occupational Therapy in 1958, Patti remained involved with the university and was among the first ever group of alumni to join U of T’s Governing Council in 1972. She served as an alumni governor from 1972 to 1978, serving on the Academic Board from 1973 to 1976 and on the Planning and Budget Committee from 1975 to 1978.


Patti was committed to advancing the interests of U of T’s students and alumni and was an active member of the U of T Alumni Association from 1968 to 1979.


Patti advocated for the Physical and Occupational Therapy program to become a degree program and in 1982, she graduated from U of T with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy.


“Patti displayed unwavering passion for her career, and she will be remembered for her impact on the rehab sciences programs at U of T, paving the way for students today and tomorrow,” says Mary Forhan, Chair of the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy.


The departments of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy extend their condolences to Patti’s friends and family, as well as her former classmates and colleagues.


Physical and Occupational Therapy Class of 1958 class photo. Graduation photo of P.L. Philip from 1958