Notable Alumni: Joan Ferguson

Joan graduated with a Diploma in Physiotherapy, in 1964, from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in Britain. She specialized in working with children with disabilities prior to immigrating to Canada with her husband and children in 1974. Being British trained she came with the credentials to practice in Canada. However Joan desired to advance her career so while practicing as a clinician at the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre she made a strategic decision to enrol in the Physical Therapy Upgrading Program at the University of Toronto to advance her career in Canada.

In 1989 she graduated from the University of Toronto as a BSc PT with honours and was appointed as Director of Rehabilitation Services at The Hospital for Sick Children. She pursued a MEd in Health Professional Education through the Faculty of Medicine and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T as well as gaining a certificate in Alternate Dispute Resolution through OISE.

At HSC Joan facilitated the development of the physical therapy for the many paediatric programs making the department renowned for its exemplary delivery of care. She ensured that physical therapy paediatric practice was patient and family focused, aligned with the academic mission of a teaching hospital and that the physical therapists imparted their knowledge and expertise during the clinical training of U of T’s physical therapy students. Her legacy at HSC was the development of cadre of physical therapy clinicians who excelled in paediatric care and innovative practice. Her successes at HSC led her on a new venture and in 1996 she was recruited as the Vice President of Programs and Services position at Bloorview MacMillan when Bloorview Children’s Hospital and Hugh MacMillan Rehabilitation Centre amalgamated. The enhancement of paediatric rehabilitation by this merger was well served by her expertise and leadership skills.

Joan held academic appointments in both in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy at U of T and was active in the Physical Therapy Department as a teacher, served on the Admissions and Curriculum Review Committees. She was also a member of the Inter-Professional Education Committee for U of T’s Faculty of Medicine during the development phase using her keen understanding of how interprofessional teamwork is integral for exemplary patient care. In recognition for her leadership the physical therapy staff at HSC nominated Joan for the 1998 University of Toronto’s Department of Physical Therapy Alumnae Achievement Award which she was honoured to receive.

Joan retired from full time work in 2008 and formed Joan Ferguson Consulting. In the role of Senior Consultant Joan provided leadership for a Pediatric Rehabilitation and Complex Continuing Care initiative in Doha, Qatar, for SickKids International and Holland Bloorview from 2009 to 2014. She continues to provide consulting services to health care organizations, most recently to the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. What a marvelous career she has had, one which continues to have a lasting influence on the delivery of paediatric physiotherapy care.