The province could have done more in the past to encourage young Islanders to practise physiotherapy in P.E.I., says an Island-born physiotherapist now working in Halifax.
Lauren Edwards was one of several Island-born physiotherapists now working in other provinces who reached out to The Guardian following news that physiotherapy services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been reduced due to recruitment troubles.
Edwards said she had a strong reaction to the news because P.E.I. gave her little incentive as a student to want to practise in P.E.I.
“P.E.I. didn’t help me with my education to become a physiotherapist at all, so why would I want to return? They gave me no incentive to bring my skills back to the province after I completed my education.”
- Lauren Edwards
“P.E.I. didn’t help me with my education to become a physiotherapist at all, so why would I want to return? They gave me no incentive to bring my skills back to the province after I completed my education,” said Edwards, who has been practising physiotherapy for five years. “Now they are desperate for physiotherapists.”
With early hopes of becoming a physiotherapist, Edwards left P.E.I. in 2006 to pursue a kinesiology degree at Dalhousie University because the program was not yet offered in P.E.I.
At the time, she wrote a letter to the education minister asking if the George Coles bursary or other financial support would be available for Islanders who had to leave the province if their program was not offered in P.E.I.
However, Edwards said she only received a “generic” response that listed the requirements for which she did not qualify.
Instead, Edwards funded her own education at Dalhousie before earning her master of physiotherapy at McMaster.
While studying at Dalhousie, she decided she wanted to practise in Halifax.
Had she been studying in P.E.I., things might have been different, she said.
“It would have at least made in a difference in my perspective, definitely,” said Edwards.
While Edwards said it’s good the province now has a kinesiology program, she also hopes it will look at providing a master’s program.