When you’ve spent the majority of your career helping clients with spinal cord injuries fight to get their life back, you yourself stand a little taller. 

Not from pride or mere ambition, though that exists, but from fulfillment. From doing the thing you were born to do. For Josh Bashow, Manager, Allied Health Department at the Foothill Medical Centre in Calgary, his fulfillment comes every day as he witnesses patients progress in their rehabilitation just outside his office door. After nearly 18 years as a physiotherapist, his career twists, turns and opportunities have been received with grateful hands.  

"Neurosciences was kind of my passion area. One of my worst marks on an exam ever was in a neuroscience course, and I don’t know if that inspired me to learn more or what! For a long time, I thought I’d be a doctor, like my Grandpa. A lot of teachers in high school called me Dr. Bashow because of my handwriting!” Josh continues, 

I’ve always been amazed by the plasticity of a human body to come back from an injury. The rehab component fascinated me; to assist someone after a spinal cord injury, brain injury or stroke and the success that your patient can eventually achieve. To see people from ICU to living their life to the fullest is very inspiring!

Living the Dream With an Amazing Team 

Josh spent the first nine years of his career working at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, where he discovered his love for supporting people after a spinal cord injury. Being from the Edmonton area, Josh was thrilled to establish his career on a team that grew to be very close as they worked together on the SCI/General Neurology program. He was able to grow as a subject matter expert and had a passion for innovation, in particular rehabilitation equipment innovation,  and was able to contribute at the grassroots in discussions around the development of a project that later became the Building Trades of Alberta Courage Centre at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. 

During this time, he got married, and shortly thereafter, had the opportunity to spend a year in Australia on a work exchange program. Throughout his “working honeymoon” he and his wife, Christine, discovered an appreciation for the commonalities of both countries. 

I was amazed by the similarities of the therapeutic modalities and techniques I was accustomed to from my clinical experience in Canada. It was also refreshing to see the collaboration and teamwork that was equally critical to the success of quality patient care, of course involving the patient and family in every aspect of care and goal planning.

I gained a much greater appreciation for the use of aquatic therapy in the rehabilitation of SCI patients and was in the pool at least three days per week; something I was happy to add to my clinical bag of tricks when I returned home.

During his work in Australia, Josh learned about the difference in the models and manufacturers of wheelchairs. He was familiar with many of the North American wheelchair and seating components, however there were many differences in process and equipment available in Australia. He found a vendor who specialized in North American wheelchair and seating brands and was able to do some in-servicing on these while also educating himself and appreciating other options and equipment that he had not experienced before. RIM head control for power wheelchairs was a drive option not used in the rehabilitation centre that he was working at, so Josh was able to introduce this method to the team in Australia.

Taking Risks and Opportunities

In 2010, Josh and his wife moved their young family to Cochrane, and he began his work at the Foothills Medical Centre (FMC), initially as assistant manager, and now as manager for the last four years. Moving from clinical into management, for some, was seen as a risky career decision. But Josh saw the transition as an opportunity to grow professionally and personally and to become an even better leader in rehabilitation and healthcare. 

You’re sometimes faced with adversity or varying opinions, but if you stay true to your values and goals then you can move forward and add value. As I manage the entire Allied Health Department at FMC, which includes physiotherapists and seven other unique allied health disciplines that support almost every inpatient and many outpatient areas, I definitely have that place in my heart for spinal cord injury patients and their rehabilitation journey. The role I’m in now I’m still able to influence that from a different perspective.”

Josh’s desire to influence and make the most of every day comes from his mother, who passed away in 1998, when he was in university. “She was a huge inspiration. She left an audio recording for us before she passed away and one thing she said was go on and live your life, the way I would live it. Live every day to the fullest. I remember that in everything I do.

To maintain resiliency, work-life balance and avoid burnout, Josh enjoys travel, running, camping, rec hockey, and skiing with his wife and two daughters. And to continue growing in those chemistry experiences from early university days, he brews his own beer at home. Josh is also completing an MBA in Leadership through Dalhousie Universities Rowe School of Business. 

While Josh continues to grow as a leader, he emphasizes the importance of learning from each other, at whatever level we find ourselves at. 

I think it’s important as a physio community to network with people. We can learn so much from each other. You can take endless courses, but you learn so much from the people doing the work and the students you support as a preceptor. One of the cool things about the physio community in Alberta is it’s a small community, and physios working with SCI is an even smaller group. The strength we can provide each other through collaboration is incredible!
Josh Bashow and Family