AMS would like to introduce our new 2018 Phoenix Fellow Dr. Beata Batorowicz. Dr. Batorowicz is an Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University. Dr. Batorowicz shares her Fellowship with Dr. Pelland.
Why did you decide to become a healthcare professional?
Before coming to Canada, my life evolved around the arts. I studied dance and performed across Europe. I went on to study history of art and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland (where I grew up); Simultaneously, I completed international choreography school and was teaching dance and movement to children in Poland and then in Norway (where I lived for two years studying English literature).
When I came to Canada, I heard about occupational therapy, a profession unfamiliar to me. I volunteered in the summer in one of the Ontario hospitals in the child oncology department and was inspired by the children, who despite the tremendous challenges they were experiencing, wanted to play, enjoy activities, chat, and had many important questions for me. How to engage these children in play in the hospital environment was not easy, yet so rewarding. A feeling of accomplishment with each child in each happy moment was exceptional. I went on to study OT and then to work with children with disabilities and their families.
What was the catalyst for your interest in compassion in healthcare?
Listening to families and children – especially children who typically did not have a ‘voice’; those with limited speech who use augmentative and alternative communication (i.e. communication boards and devices / technology). Given time, opportunity and necessary supports (e.g., technology with adapted access, opportunity to interact with others), these children had lots to say!
What inspired you to apply for a Fellowship?
The possibility of receiving support for teaching compassion to students, future healthcare practitioners, and developing an interdisciplinary collaboration with the ultimate goal to positively influence health and well-being of children with disabilities drove me to apply for the Fellowship. The possibility to network with a group of caring health care professionals concerned with compassion and change in healthcare was a terrific bonus.
What value does being an AMS Fellow bring to you professionally?
The recognition of the importance of listening to all children, families, and their real-life stories in order to provide meaningful interventions. It is the essence of family centred practice.
What one little thing could we do to make our healthcare system more compassionate?
Teaching our students, the next generation practitioners, how to ‘act’ compassion, how to actively listen, even to those, who cannot speak, but could communicate in alternative ways.
Have you ever been given advice by a patient that changed the way you practice medicine? If so, what was it?
At the time, I practiced clinically with children in the area of augmentative and alternative communication and I saw a young girl who was medically fragile, with lots of technology surrounding her – in an electric wheelchair with a respirator, communication device, etc. I came for a home visit to update something on her device, while she told me that she wanted to learn dancing. Many of her classmates (with typical development / without disability) were in dance programs, attending private studios in our city. I thought this is not my role; I need to pass on this information to someone, but who? Then, I asked myself, isn’t my role as OT to enable meaningful occupation / activities with peers? After lots of effort, looking for a ‘willing to accept’ dance studio (not a disability specific program), making some adaptations to her wheelchair, she was signed up, practiced dancing using her wheelchair, and performed with her peers. I realized, it is possible, if you listen and act on it!
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