2nd annual
Therapy Assistant Association of
Alberta Awards
• Long-Term Service Award
• Student Award
• Student Mentor Award
• Leadership Award
• Outstanding Practitioner Award
• Outstanding Team Practice Award
Long-Term Service Award
• Must be a member of the Association for at
least five consecutive years
• Has been promoting the Association
Long-Term Service Award nominee
Colleen Lazoruk
• Has been an OTA for 24 years
• Has been a member of the ThAAA since it’s inception in
• Is a passionate advocate for the ThAAA who encourages all
therapy assistants to join
• She is always willing to answer questions and provide
insights on the role and possible scope of practice of
therapy assistants
• As Colleen has been heard saying many times: “There is no
reason not to be a member!”
Long-Term Service Award nominee
Dianne Foley
• Has worked as an SLPA for 15 years
• Has been part of the Association since it’s inception
in 2004
• Took an active role by being on the Association’s
Board and by always being willing to promote the
Long-Term Service Award nominee
Donna Tugwood-Jackson
• Has been working as an SLPA for 21 years
• Has been a member of the ThAAA since its inception
in 2004
• Was a valued part of the Promotions Committee and
fervent promoter of the Association
Long-Term Service Award recipient
Colleen Lazoruk
Student Award
• Registered in one of the 4 post-secondary
institutions in Alberta
• Must possess outstanding clinical and
academic skills
• Inspires fellow students
• Demonstrates a passion for learning
Student Award nominee
Cassandra Hunter
• Therapeutic Rec student at Norquest College that is an energetic,
confident and caring leader as a student representative for her class
• Regularly meets with the program Chair and other student reps to
discuss issues, brainstorms ideas and plan activities
• Easily worked with individuals for group work and readily gave and
received feedback
• Excelled in program planning by providing thorough, creative and
client-centered plans
• Demonstrated excellent communication and collaboration skills as
well as the ability to remain clam and professional during
interdisciplinary communication experiences in the college’s
simulation lab
Student Award nominee
Emily Kabat
• PTA student at Norquest College that is respectful, kind and welcoming to
students and teachers alike
• Proactive and self-directed in her learning and demonstrates perseverance to
ensure she clearly grasps program concepts
• Supports and assists her peers in learning difficult concepts, often by sharing
her own study notes
• Along with her partner, won 1st place at a student symposium for their poster
presentation on TA’s working in Pediatrics
• Winner of the 2013 Shillington Community Leadership Award, which honours
students who have an excellent academic standing and demonstrates strong
leadership, citizenship and community volunteerism in and outside the college.
• Volunteered for the PTA workshops hosted by Norquest for the Careers: Next
Generation Health Sciences Career Camp in 2013
Student Award Recipient
Emily Kabat
Student Mentor Award
• Has mentored Therapy Assistant students
by providing coaching, support and/or
feedback during student’s placement
• Encourages others to mentor students
• Has made mentoring students a continuing
goal in their professional life
Student Mentor Award nominee
Hoda Joumaa
• Brings many years of valued experience to her work at
the Sturgeon Hospital
• Approaches her work with enthusiasm and energy
• Is constantly being offered students to mentor and never
refuses to assist in their education
• Helps students in their placements by teaching from a
wide knowledge base and with a positive work ethic
• Reinforces the importance of building client rapport and
is open to giving critical feedback which allows the
students to become increasingly efficient and productive
Student Mentor Award Recipient
Hoda Joumaa
Leadership Award
• Promotes the role of the Therapy Assistant
• Promotes the discipline(s) and/or
specialties in which they work
• Encourages others to participate in
Professional Development and does so
• Is an integral member of their rehabilitation
Leadership Award Nominee
Carmen McKnight
• Is a tireless, positive, energetic and creative force in
educating, promoting and advancing the role of TA’s
• Leads by example in her continuing efforts to create a fun
and motivating experience for her clients
• She is a team player who values learning from and
providing learning to fellow team members
• Continually finds new opportunities for education and
encourages others to do the same
• Is instrumental in planning and organizing training days
for TA’s in her zone
Leadership Award Nominee
Claudine Sim
• Has been instrumental in developing the role of TA’s in
the mental health setting
• Advocated as a student to have her practicum at Alberta
Hospital, paving the way for future students
• Takes an active role in her patients therapies and looks
for new ways to improve client care
• Recently became a Pet Therapy handler to enhance
onsite programming opportunities as well as therapy in
the community
• Has a desire to better the lives of her patients which
inspires her colleagues to do the same
Leadership Award Nominee
Kristin Tarnowski
• Eager to learn new ways of working with clients and is
excited to share any new found knowledge with others
• Demonstrates creativity with treatment ideas and makes
therapy fun for each child
• Is a valuable resource for her peers and a support for
new staff in learning about equipment, exercises and
team processes
• Is a passionate voice for the rights of TA’s and became an
AUPE member to represent their interests
• Encourages other TA’s to become a member of the
Leadership Award Nominee
Sarah Dezall
Has worked with ARBI for the last 7 years as OTA, PTA and SLPA
Her role included case management, which involves training client’s
volunteers in the implementation of daily rehab programs. At a given time, she
would be training between 30 to 35 volunteers
Participated in a research study to improve upper-extremity function using the
Saeboflex device which required strong clinical skills, refined communication
skills as well as a strong understanding of research methods.
Used her skills and experience to treat clients, liaise with their families,
medical staff and the research leader.
Mentors staff with positive results and teaches new techniques with patience,
respect and while always maintaining a professional rapport.
Regularly supervises students and presents in-services to ARBI staff
Presented at a Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund on the importance of
Music Rehabilitation
Active participant on a number of committees
Leadership Award Nominee
Tracey Clark
• Has worked for the Carewest Neuro Rehab unit for 13 years and has
been a constant leader for the TA group.
• Is organized, knowledgeable and helps any TA who needs assistance
with scheduling, equipment and other TA duties in a calm, clear
• Organizes TA schedule when one calls in sick so that clients do not
miss out on any therapy
• Regularly orients students and new TA’s and is always willing to
explain and demonstrate proper techniques (i.e.. Transfers) to NA’s
• Demonstrates patience and a positive attitude in every aspect of
her job
• Has presented to SAIT TA students about ‘’The Day in the Life of a
Therapy Assistant’’ for the last four years
Leadership Award Recipient
Sarah Dezall
Outstanding Practitioner Award
• Has contributed to the rehabilitation team
• Must possess outstanding clinical and
interpersonal skills
• Participates in professional development
• Shares with or teaches other team
members knowledge acquired through
practice or education opportunities
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Adele Comstock
• SLPA who works in inpatients, post-acute rehab and
outpatients at Chinook Regional Hospital as well as in client’s
homes in the rural community
• Is critical in keeping on top of the day-to-day running of the
team, including organizing her 5 SLPs while finding and
attending unique educational opportunities for herself
• Is in tune with her clients needs and advocates for appropriate
treatment changes to most suit their needs and will rearrange
her schedule to fit them in
• Is very approachable, professional and compassionate towards
her clients and gets to know them on a deep, personal which
puts them at ease.
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Alexandra McClure
• Proactive in offering assistance to whole team and takes
initiative in learning new areas and skills of practice
• Started an education/in-service program for other TA’s at the
• Practices client centered care which builds strong relationships
with those on her caseload
• Always professional and a great advocate for her profession
• Remains calm and confident but seeks assistance when
• Possesses strong communication skills and is able to adjust to
a wide variety of environments
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Andrea Engebretson
• TA at a long-term care facility where she displays
enthusiasm, joy and tremendous skills
• Is team focused and has been able to provide consistency
and a welcoming environment for many new staff
• Possesses strong communication skills and a broad
knowledge base
• Is hard-working, supportive, innovative, resourceful and
anticipates clients needs to provide them with optimum
• Has strong interpersonal skills that she uses with everyone
she encounters which helps foster a sense of unity and
caring throughout the facility
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Catherine Young
• SLPA since 2000 at Medicine Hat Hospital where she
contributes to her department in a collaborative and engaging
• Has a natural ability to work with clients of all ages and has
taken the initiative to explore new therapy techniques and
• Demonstrates a keen respect for each and every patient she
serves which helps to improve their lives.
• Commits to her ongoing education by attending professional
development opportunities and helping to organize the 2009
SLP Assistant Conference
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Colleen Dyck
• TA on the Hand Practice Team at Chinook Hospital that has been the
key consistent team member throughout the years
• Provides stability through her calm demeanor which sustained and
facilitated the services growth
• Establishes excellent rapport with clients, listens attentively to their
needs and then becomes an advocate on their behalf
• Demonstrates outstanding interpersonal skills with a positive and
flexible attitude
• Has developed competencies in her splinting skills and has acquire a
wide knowledge base but is still willing to learn and clarify
expectations when needed
• Supports therapists in a collaborative way, contributing ideas,
strategies and resources for the ultimate benefit of the client
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Darla Larsen
• Has demonstrated initiative, adaptability and a drive to learn during
her 7 years as a TA for the CRIS program in Edmonton
• Takes initiative to acquire specific knowledge and skill sets to
provide the best clinical treatment (for example – Certification in
Manual Lymph Draining and Complete Decongestive Therapy,
Physical treatment of the Neurological Patient, Manual therapy
techniques and NDT training among them)
• Has a strong desire to understand the theory behind treatment
• Has become an invaluable partner to the OT with the development
and success of the lymphedema service at the clinic. Uses her
manual skills and knowledge to help problem solve for the
extremely difficult population of clients with lymphedema
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Elaine Halter
• SLPA for 20+ year in Sylvan Lake with pre=school and school aged
• Organized, meticulous and detailed in her scheduling, session
planning and clinical responsibility
• Is always respectful of staff, clients and families including respectful
of the SLP/SLPA boundaries
• Is personable and easy to approach and possesses extensive
knowledge and understanding of her field
• She keeps sessions fun and interactive and genuinely wants the best
for her clients and their families
• Seeks out opportunities to grow in her knowledge base and clinical
skills and isn’t afraid to ask questions or seek clarification when
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Heather Fulker
• TA for ARBI for over a decade who brings enthusiasm, compassion
and commitment to her work
• Participated in a pilot project to ensure timely access to rehab for
stroke survivors by becoming a Rehabilitation worker
• She conducts herself in a professional manner and has exceptional
communication skills which is critical to her client’s success
• Supports Outreach clients in the community where she supports
workers and families by providing guidance, education and training
• She has a keen interest in furthering her education and training and
puts this knowledge to improve client programming
• Contributed to the development of a poster presentation on the
pilot project at the National Stroke Congress
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Jacalyn Poulin
• TA with the Department of Occupational Therapy at the U if A
since 2010 and has become an invaluable resource and
support to the team
• Has exemplary interpersonal skills and promotes the
professional atmosphere on which students build high
academic achievements
• Models teamwork, professionalism and communication to
demonstrate the complete functioning of the OTA role while
making evident the limits and boundaries of said role
• Has broadened the department’s resources and access to
them and helps engage the students to open their thoughtprocesses to activity analysis and to therapeutic
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Jacinthe Vetsch
• TA for the Peace County Student Health Program for 5 years,
providing service in over 40 schools
• Is at the top of her field in terms of her clinical knowledge, creativity
and dedication and is indispensable to the functioning and morale
of her team
• Is integral in the development of therapy interventions,
establishment of processes and the day-to-day management of the
• Generates new ideas and creative approaches to engage her
students in learning effectively
• Responsible for the development of a printing program and
presented in-services to schools to inform them of it, all while
maintaining her caseload
• Exemplifies the qualities of dependability, efficiency, timeliness and
attention to detail
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Katelyn Brown
• PTA for the Physical Therapy Department at the U of A where she
had assumed many responsibilities
• Has an integral role in the student-led physical therapy clinic where
she is in charge of booking, payment, scheduling and takes part in
direct client care
• Is the sole staff member who facilitates continuity of care for all
clients and is the main communication link between the team of
PT’s. Provides consistency ensuring a cohesive approach to patient
and student management
• Contributes to student learning through clinical skill demonstration
and teaching
• Sets a warm, inviting and professional tone when communication
with clients yet adapts her communication style to portray respect
and patience in the face of challenging situations
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Kathy Cassidy
• Full-time TA on a busy 61 bed rehab unit where she manages a
very full caseload
• Is quietly assertive and always respectful of clients and
colleagues as well as being client-focused. She will often alter
her approach according to client feedback
• Provides opinions to the team in a competent and respectful
manner while managing her time, establishing priorities and
meeting caseload demands
• Is a vocal advocate for appropriate technique and use of
assistive devices
• Seeks out opportunities to learn, attending conferences when
able and also volunteers to teach others about her role and
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Kelly Frazer
• TA with Home Living where she is fearless in regards to taking
on complex clients and finding ways to keep the client safe
using great clinical judgment and keeping them engaged in a
rehab program
• She is excellent at keeping her team updated on client
progress and is very flexible with her scheduling
• Her clients are all showing significant gains and meeting most
of their goals all the while being organized, caring and
dedicated to their care
• She demonstrates exceptional listening skills and has a way of
respecting the clients and their families as well
• She is a quick learner and she embraces opportunities to learn
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Laura Bourne
• Ta on this rehab unit for 9 years where she uses her strong
knowledge base to produce high-quality results
• Is extremely skilled at motivating patients and takes the time to get
to know them and their motivations so that they have a vested
interest in their own therapy
• Works very well independently but is mindful of her team and
always openly participates in discussions on how to improve the
therapy provided
• Actively seeks and participates in whatever learning opportunities
that are available as well as learning from fellow team members
• Passes on her learning to others including students and new team
members in an encouraging and caring way
• Possesses a genuine enthusiasm for this field and celebrates the
successes of her clients and of being a part of their journey
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Mercedes Lichty
• TA with the Geriatric Mental Health Rehab team since 2011 where
she presents each day with an engaged, interested, calm and
energetic manner
• This role requires knowledge of medicine, psychiatry, inpatients and
outpatient issues as well as an understanding and ability to utilize a
variety of approaches and responses, all of which Mercedes excels
• Has been key in organizing tours of community lodges and
supportive living environments to assist patients in understanding
their living choices
• Provides insight to the team into how clients cope and manage in
the community prior to discharge, how they respond to functional
tasks and has made strong connections with community partners
• Is collaborative in her work and is available to other team members
should they need her
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Paige Jensen
• As a TA makes the office run smoothly and creates a positive
work environment as well as working well with all disciplines
• Engages her kids with movement games and incorporates her
own knowledge into therapy (i.e.. Skating groups)
• She provides excellent suggestions for multisensory work and
is great at improvising as needed
• Takes on any organizing tasks that are required and is willing to
help with anything asked of her
• Isn’t afraid to work one on one with severely impaired children
to ensure they meet with success in their therapy
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Penny Miskolzie
• PTA on the Adult Stroke and Brain Injury team as well as the Spinal Cord
Injury team at the Glenrose Hospital since 2003
• Is committed to ensuring her teams run as smoothly and efficiently as
possible in addition to being engaged in providing the best care for her
• Develops good working relationships with her patients as well as with any
staff member she encounters. She puts the patient first and goes the extra
mile to provide them with excellent service
• Has shown great leadership when supervising and mentoring PTA students
while making every effort to provide them with opportunities and
experiences while at the Glenrose
• Is a guest lecturer at Grant MacEwan University for the OTA/PTA diploma
students about working in neuro rehabilitation
• Is involved with committees at the Glenrose including the WH&S
committee and the Space Utilization Committee, being an excellent
advocate for her teams
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Shazmin Hussein
• PTA in the Pediatrics department at the Glenrose since January
2012. Took the initiative to carve out her role in areas where her
her assistance was needed.
• Possesses excellent interpersonal communication skills and used
those to tackle the steep-learning curve of a demanding new
• Became proficient as well as the “go-to” person in the use of a new
and highly technical piece of equipment called the Lokomat, which
is a gait-training device that requires specialized training
• Key organizer for summer PT outpatient camps such as: “A Wheelie
Fun Camp”, Super Spring and Summer Sessions and the Summer
Lokomotion Program
• Has a gently and easy-going personality and always appears positive
and enthusiastic which gains her the trust of children and adults
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Shirley Randell
• PTA at the Northern Light Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray
that is dedicated towards her patients, colleagues and profession
• Demonstrates an effortless ability to form meaningful relationships
with seniors, which encourages them to actively participate in daily
exercise programs to enable them to return home
• Possesses a strong clinical background but remains committed to
growing professionally by attending lunch and learns and stroke
• Remains open-minded in her everyday work and values
interpersonal development as she attended courses such as “A bullyfree workplace” and “How to deal with difficult people”
• Capable of prioritizing her time perfectly, while maintaining her
clam persona and using creativity to assist with the lack of resources
that her team often encounters
Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee
Stephanie Stafford
• TA who has been integral part of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation
Program at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury
for the last 12 years
• Demonstrates dedication and compassion to her clients and always
goes above and beyond to help them achieve their rehab goals
• Has made a significant difference in some of her clients lives by
providing them the opportunity to be around horses at her family
• Carries a heavy caseload which she manages with grace and with is
always open to assisting other team members when needed
• Takes advantage of every opportunity to learn, including taking part
in many Solution Focused therapy training sessions, group
facilitation courses and more recently, ASST training
• Volunteers to do live broadcast sessions with clients to assist other
practitioners in learning and education
Outstanding Practitioner Award
Darla Larsen
Outstanding Team Practice Award
• Has impacted their organization by
demonstrating outstanding clinical and
interpersonal skills
• The team members must have made
contributions towards increased knowledge,
skills and outstanding client service
• The TA team’s success is a result of the
nominees working in a collaborative and
engaging manner
Outstanding Team Practice Award
PARP Team: Jean Martens and Mirjana Smiljanec
• TA’s at St. Michael Health Centre Post Acute Rehabilitation Program
in Lethbridge who support OT, PT and SLP
• Cheerfully and efficiently keep their 8 therapists organized and on
• Demonstrate enthusiasm, commitment and integrity by going the
extra mile for patients and therapists, being accountable for their
actions and establishing trusting relationships with anyone they
• Bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and demonstrate
incredible organization skills
• They work creatively and with a sense of humor which helps
everyone keep a positive attitude despite full workloads
• Continually seek feedback, knowledge and opportunities to work
together to provide the best environment for their patients
Outstanding Team Practice Award nominee
Supportive Living Team: Letithia Nyiranshuti, Mohit Raja,
Anab Abdi, Sherry Rioux, Sara Marghella, Alicia Knutson,
Heidi Strachan, Waseem Awar and Joceley Monaghan
• The TA’s have stepped in to fill the gaps in the ever growing
area of community living even with a rise in acuity of patients
they serve
• They extend the reach of the 20 PT’s they assist, who rely
heavily on the TA’s to help maintain consistency and quality of
service amongst many changes to staff and to the program
• Are innovative, highly skilled in time management and
demonstrate strong communication skills which ensures
clients are safe and have all of their needs met
Outstanding Team Practice Award
PARP Team: Jean Martens and
Mirjana Smiljanec
Congratulations to all our winners and
We are proud to recognize the outstanding work
you do in your respective roles and hope we
can all follow the example set by you.
Thank you for letting your passion shine

Outstanding Practitioner Award nominee