Notable Alumni: Sheila Ritcey

Dr. Sheila Ritcey is president of the University of Toronto Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Alumni Association.  Sheila has a long history with the University of Toronto beginning in 1957 with a Diploma in Physical and Occupational Therapy and continuing with a BSc.PT in 1976, a MA in 1979 and a PhD 1986.  

Sheila has enjSheila Ritceyoyed a diverse career that has included clinical service in acute and rehabilitation settings, and supervisory roles for rehabilitation services at provincial and municipal levels of government and the private sector.  

Education has been a primary focus of Sheila’s career, with a focus on practical experience in the delivery of a variety of rehabilitation models in institutions and the community. Sheila has emphasized the collaborative role of physiotherapy and the changing role of rehabilitation professionals. She is a strong advocate of client-focused care and goals based on client needs.  

Sheila’s teaching opportunities have involved lecturing and providing training to students from varied vocations in universities, community colleges and private corporations. In 2006, her passion for quality education was acknowledged by the Educational Excellence for Community Care Award, presented by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.  

Sheila has given many presentations reflecting the significant influence of physiotherapy across our society including PT World Congress:“Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Community Work” June 2007; International Symposium on Global Rehabilitation Trends:“City of Toronto Case Study” 1997; Occupational Health and Safety Canada:“Psychological Job Matching: Designing Effective Return to Work Programs” 1996; and OACCAC Conference: “A Learning Model to Facilitate the Transfer of Knowledge Into Practice: Introducing An Ethical Review Record Into Performance Review” June 2011.   Competence in the Institutionalized Elderly: “The Golden Dialectic” was the subject of Sheila’s dissertation and she has maintained an interest in the challenges of the aging process.

She believes the skills of physiotherapists are ideal for today’s aging demographics and the prevalence of chronic disease. Physiotherapy offers hope and practical options for those who wish to retain optimal function and improve quality of life as they age.   Sheila continues to work with Personal Support Workers to emphasize the importance of mobility and to reinforce the collaborative role between physiotherapists and support personnel. This collaboration is essential to improve the quality of care provided by the 100,000 Personal Support Workers delivering service in Ontario.  

As the 100th anniversary of physiotherapy at University of Toronto approaches, Sheila looks forward to celebrating a profession that has enriched her life, and those of so many patients. Her interest in education and the aging process will continue to be reflected in her teaching and involvement with alumni and colleagues.   

Four daughters and eight grandchildren will demand mobility and optimal function as she navigates the life of an octogenarian.