As a born and raised Yellowknifer, Andrea always knew the north would call her home. After living in British Columbia for 6 years to gain her education from the University of British Columbia Okanagan for a Bachelors of Human Kinetics and then the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for her Masters of Physical Therapy, Andrea chose to complete her final placement in Yellowknife and returned home immediately after graduation.
“It was a great way to transition into working in the North. Being a new grad is overwhelming, so this made the transition easier and gave me extra time to learn how everything works,” says Andrea of her experience during her placement. “This has been the most supportive group of people to work with, and it has fostered my continued love of the north and is why I wanted to live and work here.”
While in university, she gained valuable experience in rural communities in BC, which helped to solidify her passion for remote medicine. In the two years since she has returned to Yellowknife, Andrea has been doing out-patient work as well as community travel clinics to Whati, Behchoko, Fort Simpson, Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, and others.
“The most rewarding and the most challenging part of my work are travel clinics. The days are long, busy and stressful, but the people in the communities are my favourite part. They are so kind, lovely, and appreciative, and it makes providing services to them so much easier when we have great clients. It makes the busy days worth it.”
One of the biggest draws for Andrea to work in remote communities was the opportunity to do generalist work. “A lot of times these positions can be specialized, but being generalist really broadens the scope of your work.” Though the varied nature of being a generalist keeps her on her toes and requires constant trouble shooting, Andrea doesn’t let that stop her spirit. “We tend to like to be comfortable, but being pushed out of our comfort zones is really important.”
Looking ahead in her career, Andrea says she wants to move into more specialization, but will do so based on the community needs and adapt her work to fit what best serves them. She plans to continue her self-education and training to bring continued quality care to her clients, and hopes to share this with future physiotherapists in the Northwest Territories.
In her personal time, Andrea says her hobbies are that of a typical Yellowknifer – she loves the outdoors, especially hiking, fishing, camping, and fat-biking.
Her advice for those interested in living and working in the Northwest Territories?
“Take that leap! You won’t understand the NWT unless you experience it for yourself. We’re so lucky to live here. The key to people falling in love with the north is embracing the ruggedness, the nature, and the community.”