Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Nancy Dowker is a physiotherapist with presence, determination and commitment. Her experience, openness, and intellectual curiosity has made her an amazing clinician. Nancy is recognized in her community as one of the go-to physiotherapists for pelvic health. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge, and when one of the clinical participants in Ottawa failed to meet the standards for rostering with the College, Nancy stepped right up and mentored her and re-tested her. This passion and commitment makes her an excellent candidate for the honour of our spotlight position. Congratulations Nancy!
Nancy was also recently interviewed on CTV News Ottawa regarding pelvic health physiotherapy and the best ways to address pelvic health concerns. Click the link below to watch!
How long have you been practicing pelvic health physiotherapy?
I am entering my 10th year of pelvic floor practice.
What lead you in to the specialty of pelvic health?
I had been practicing in orthopaedics for 25 years and am very focused on how people move functionally. At one point, within the same few weeks, several of my low back pain and hip pain ladies mentioned that as they felt and moved better, they were sleeping through the night. I asked them why, and they told me that they no longer had to get up in the night to pee! My square dancers and curlers noted that they no longer ‘really needed’ their ‘just in case’ pad. My interest radar was fine-tuned and when the appropriate pelvic floor courses were announced, I was there!
What do you love most about your profession?
They say that when you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life! Every day as a Physiotherapist poses new and interesting challenges. People to meet, problems to ponder, solutions to be had, something new to be learned. Working in the specialty of pelvic health has been the most rewarding to me to date over 36 years. We profoundly change the quality of people’s lives.
Favourite course/what course has changed your clinical practice the most?
Julie Wiebe’s ‘Diaphragmatic Piston’ concept was the game-changer for me. The concept of the ‘core’ as a functional unit encompassing the pelvic floor solidified what I was seeing in the clinic. The pieces of the puzzle came together. That said, every course that you take becomes part of the puzzle and every course that I have taken has moved me forward and changed the way that I practice significantly. I also feel strongly that as pelvic floor physiotherapists we are on the forefront of pain management. The sum of our knowledge wraps in to the biopsychosocial approach and we have the time and obligation to implement it with our clients.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
Every smile, tear, handshake and hug.
What advice would you provide to new physiotherapists getting started in pelvic health?
If you are a new physiotherapist, learn about the rest of the body. I like to say that the pelvic floor muscle is like any other muscle in the body, it is just in an awkward place! You have to have to have a working knowledge of muscles and joint mechanics and nerves and fascia and posture and normal movement. Develop a solid knowledge base around pain. Understand that you need strong skills to manage the emotions around pelvic floor issues. Help your clients to become resilient, and be sure to lead by example and practice self-care.