Medical Doctors (MDs) aim to maintain, restore and improve patients’ physical and mental health. To diagnose disease, injury and psychological disorders, doctors may interview the patient, consider the many factors that may influence one’s health, perform physical exams, and utilize tests and medical imaging. Doctors communicate the diagnosis to the patient and offer management options, which may include addressing of psychosocial issues, medication therapy, surgery and radiation. Doctors also conduct research and engage in health promotion and health prevention.
MDs may specialize in many areas, some of which include: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine specialties (i.e. Cardiology, Nephrology, etc.), Surgery specialties (i.e. Orthopedics, Thoracic, etc.), Public Health, Radiology and Medical Microbiology. In the healthcare setting, doctors work with healthcare professionals from other disciplines to achieve and optimize the health and wellbeing of patients.
The primary role of a pharmacist is to ensure that a patient’s medication is the most effective and safe and is used in the most appropriate manner. The pharmacist’s practice model requires that the pharmacist accepts responsibility for identifying and resolving drug therapy problems, with the goal of optimizing drug therapy.
A pharmacist works in partnership with a patient and many other health care professionals to carry out an assessment of the patient in order to identify their actual or potential health care needs, determine if these health care needs are drug-related, and design, implement, and monitor a pharmacy care plan that will resolve or prevent any drug therapy problems. They work in the community or hospital setting.
Physician Assistants (PAs) are highly skilled mid-level health care providers that have been active in the Canadian military for many years. The role is well established in the United States with over 80,000 practicing PAs. In 2006 the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care identified Physician Assistants as important health care providers that can help in improving access to care for underserviced populations and sectors of the health care system. PAs work under a licensed physician as physician extenders providing a broad range of medical services to patients. PAs can work in a variety of settings and their scope of practice evolves as they learn and develop additional skills. PAs look forward to becoming an integral part of Ontario’s health care system, providing quality care to patients.
Physiotherapists are accessible health care professionals who lead in optimizing and improing the mobility, health and well-being of individuals. There are three main fields of practice within the discipline of physiotherapy: musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiorespiratory. Musculoskeletal physiotherapy facilitates healing of soft-tissue injury; Neurological physiotherapy aims to maximize function after a lesion to the central nervous system (stroke, spinal cord injury, etc.), a lesion to the peripheral nervous system, or episodic and degenerative conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.); Cardiorespiratory physiotherapy includes assessment and management of patients with acute or chronic respiratory and/or cardiovascular conditions.
Physiotherapy treatment can include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, therapeutic modalities, work hardening, as well as education, including health promotion and home exercise. A physiotherapist promotes independence and facilitates patients taking responsibility for their rehabilitation.
Physiotherapists can choose to work in hospital, home care, continuing/long term care facilities, community care, private practice, industry, schools, and specialty practice clinics (acupuncture, sports therapy, WSIB), as well in the areas of consulting, research, and teaching.
Speech-language pathologists work alone or as part of a team to assess, treat and prevent communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults to enable maximal social, academic and vocational integration. Areas of concentration include disorders of developmental language, neurogenic speech and language, fluency, voice, articulation/phonology, swallowing and alternative and augmentative communication. SLP’s may work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to schools to private practice. Treatment procedures may involve group or individual therapy, use of technology to provide feedback or for
alternative/augmentative communication, education of family members and caregivers, and consultation with other professionals.
Naturopathic medicine (sometimes called “naturopathy”) is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention, treating the whole person - mental, physical, emotional - and the body's own healing power. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) blend centuries-old knowledge and a philosophy that nature is the most effective healer WITH current research on health and human systems. NDs use standard medical diagnostic procedures but differ in terms of treatment. The therapeutic modalities used in naturopathic medicine include physical medicine (massage, spinal manipulation, hydrotherapy), clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, Asian medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy, and lifestyle/psychological counseling.
Naturopathic doctors are guided by six fundamental healing principles: (1) First, to do no harm; (2) To treat the root cause of disease; (3) To teach the principles of healthy living; (4) To heal the whole person through individualized treatment; (5) To emphasize prevention; (6) To support the healing power of the body
Social workers are commonly viewed as those who work directly with people who are disadvantaged and troubled. While this is true, it is only part of the picture. Social workers provide services as members of a multidisciplinary team or on a one-to-one basis with the client.
Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It aims to help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems. Social work is concerned with individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment and domestic violence.
Human rights and social justice are the philosophical underpinnings of social work practice. The uniqueness of social work practice is in the blend of values, knowledge and skills, including the use of relationship as the basis of all interventions and respect for the client’s choice and involvement.
In a socio-political-economic context which increasingly generates insecurity and social tensions, social workers play an important and essential role.
Kinesiology and Physical Education
The Faculty’s mission is to develop, advance and disseminate knowledge about physical activity, health and their interactions through education, research, leadership and the provision of opportunity. Physical activity includes exercise, sport, dance and play. The Faculty follows the World Health Organizations’ definition of health which considers it as a state of complete physical and social well being.
People working in physical education and health are involved in a broad variety of careers including teaching, health and fitness promotion, kinesiology, research, physical and athletic therapy, medicine.
Graduates of programs such as the Bachelor of Physical Education and Health program and the Graduate Program in Exercise Science work collaboratively with experts from a variety of different fields to improve health: its practice, its research and its promotion.
Medical Radiation Sciences
Medical Radiation Science is the study and application of ionizing radiation in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of many injuries and diseases such as bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, cancer and heart conditions.
Applied Medical Radiation Science encompasses a number of specialty disciplines, each distinguished by a distinctive combination of the radiation
used and the associated advanced technology required to deliver and interpret the effects of the radiation. These specialty disciplines are:
- Nuclear Medicine Technology: the use of an administered radiopharmaceutical to assess organ function and cellular disease.
- Radiological Technology the use of external x-rays to image and assess body structures.
- Radiation Therapy the use of ionizing radiation to destroy cancer tissue.
Medical radiation technologists in all the specialties work directly with patients, which places a premium on good communication and a caring approach. The medical radiation technologist explains the imaging or treatment procedure to the patient, attends to the patient’s concerns before, during and after the procedure, positions the patient and equipment correctly, operates the imaging or therapeutic equipment, assists with interventional procedures as appropriate and monitors the patient carefully.
Medical radiation technologists usually function as members of a multidisciplinary health care team and carry out their procedures at the request of physicians as part of an overall continuum of health care delivery. Nevertheless, they have prime responsibility for their specialty and are expected to have the requisite expertise and skills to make independent decisions that optimize the application and outcome of the imaging or therapeutic procedure. Medical radiation technologists are well versed in the potential hazards of the radiation they use, and employ appropriate quality control procedures and approved protocols to protect the patient from unnecessary exposure and to minimize occupational exposure to themselves.
The goal of nursing is to restore, maintain and advance the health of individuals, groups or entire communities. It is both a science and an art. The science is the application in nursing practice of nursing knowledge, knowledge from science, social sciences and the humanities and technical/communications knowledge. The art is the establishment of a caring partnership with clients which supports the application of nursing knowledge, skills and judgment in a compassionate manner. Both the science and art of nursing focus on the whole person/client, not just a particular health problem. Nurses care for patients/clients at all stages of the life cycle and in all states of health, extending from health promotion/education related to normal growth and development to caring for persons and their families experiencing a persistent illness and/or an acute health crisis.
In Ontario, nursing is one profession with two categories of care providers — registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs). In most ways, the two categories are subject to the same regulatory requirements; the general standards of practice, the complaints and discipline process, the registration process, are all the same. The two main areas of difference between RNs and RPNs are educational preparation and limits of practice. Although all nursing students learn from the same basic body of nursing knowledge, RNs study it in greater depth and breadth over a longer period of time, and accordingly are able to provide care in more complex situations.
Occupational Therapy is guided by the belief that health is affected by the nature and pattern of activities in which persons engage. The goal of occupational therapy is to facilitate occupational performance through engagement in meaningful activities or occupations.
An Occupational Therapist (OT) is a health professional who works with people of all ages with various physical and mental disabilities to help them overcome barriers to performance and participate fully in living. The work of occupational therapists focuses on decreasing the impact of disability, enabling occupational engagement and enhancing quality of life. OTs help individuals adapt to environments and adapt environments to individuals.
Occupational therapists use a variety of assessment and treatment techniques to address goals developed with the client. Interventions may include the training of daily living activity and community life skills; prescription of specialized equipment; evaluation and modification of home, work or school environments; and related education and counselling. Occupational therapists are committed to health promotion, community integration and research activities that enhance the delivery of health care.
A dentist is an oral health expert who knows how the health of teeth, gums and mouth relates to a patient’s general health. A dentist has the knowledge and skill to examine a patient’s mouth to determine what, if anything, is wrong and to recommend and carry out treatment. Dentists work with a team to ensure the oral health of patients.
Dentists perform some or all of the following duties:
- Examine patients’ teeth, gums and surrounding tissue to diagnose disease, injury and decay and plan appropriate treatment
- Restore, extract and replace diseased and decayed teeth
- Perform oral surgery, periodontal surgery and other treatments
- Clean teeth and instruct patients on oral hygiene
- Design bridgework, fit dentures and provide appliances to correct abnormal positioning of the teeth and jaws, or write fabrication instructions or
prescriptions for use by denturists and dental technicians
- Supervise dental hygienists, dental assistants and other staff
Dentists may specialize in such areas as oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, periodontics, endodontics, prosthodontics, oral pathology, oral radiology or public health dentistry.
Chiropractors are musculoskeletal experts, managing disorders related to the spine, nervous system and joints. The health of their patients is enhanced through the use of spinal manipulation and a combination of non-invasive therapies in conjunction with education and exercise prescription depending on the specific needs of the individual.
As a regulated health profession, each province in Canada has a regulatory college established by legislation under the Regulatory Health Professions Act to ensure safety to the public. Chiropractors provide care to over 4.5 million patients annually in Canada, and are categorized as primary contact health care professionals providing complementary and alternative care in the management of various health conditions.