Sharon Armstrong stands in a hallway in Michael Garron Hospital.
Sharon Armstrong

#IamMGH – Meet Sharon Armstrong 

#IamMGH tells the stories of our people. Meet Sharon Armstrong, Advanced Practice Physiotherapist with Michael Garron Hospital’s (MGH) Hip and Knee Arthritis Program Rapid Access Clinic.  

“I love being an advanced practice physiotherapist. However, I think people would be surprised to know that I started out studying art! My first experience at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) was at the age of 17 when I signed up to volunteer with the hospital’s outpatient psychiatry service offering art therapy. I loved interacting with patients and that experience helped me realize I would enjoy healthcare. While I ended up going into physiotherapy instead, I love the fact that my experience at MGH has been full circle. 

My first experience with physiotherapy was as a teenager. I had a family member who was injured and needed help navigating the healthcare system. Through that journey, I was able to see firsthand the valuable and integral role physiotherapists play in a patient’s healing journey. What attracted me most to the profession was how physiotherapists had the opportunity to stay with a patient from their diagnosis to the end of their treatment. By the time I knew that I wanted to leave art school and get into healthcare, I knew physiotherapy would be the right choice for me. 

After graduating from the Physical Therapy Program at the University of Toronto in 2013, I started my career at Toronto Western Hospital. I had been working with patients with hip and knee issues for about seven years when I decided to go back to school to get my advanced practice physiotherapy certification. There are not many advanced practice physiotherapists in Canada. In fact, I was maybe the 100th person to graduate from the program in 2022!  

The biggest difference I’ve found between working as a physiotherapist versus as an advanced practice physiotherapist is the way in which I work and interact with physicians. As an outpatient physiotherapist, I rarely ever knew or met the physicians who would refer patients to me. However, as an advanced practice therapist, I get to work directly with orthopaedic surgeons to assess and diagnose a patient’s condition and determine if they need surgery or if they need another kind of treatment. This gives patients the next steps and answers they need without waiting to see a surgeon.  

One of the things that I love most about this role is the profound impact it has had on our healthcare system. Over the last few years, as more advanced practice physiotherapists have entered the industry, we’ve seen a drastic improvement in access to care for patients along with reduced wait times.  

Now that I’ve worked in this role for two years, I’d say the best part of my job is having patients come in who, at first, may not be familiar with this profession and what we do, and seeing them leave with so much gratitude for how we’re able to help them in their journey. That gives me a sense of great satisfaction as a provider and I hope we can keep having this impact on patients and the system in the future.” 

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