Science Alumni Profile: Iyad - Integrated Sciences, '14

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UBC Science alumni have gone on to build meaningful and fulfilling careers in sectors around the world. Our conversations with alumni have told us that your journey through Science and beyond isn’t a linear path but a complex navigation of right and left turns, and even some dead-ends, that will eventually lead you to where you're meant to be.

Our Science Alumni Spotlight Series will show you the breadth of career paths that UBC Science alumni have pursued, and offer a fresh perspective on new opportunities to discover.



BSc, Integrated Sciences, ‘14

Current Job Title: Orthopaedic Physiotherapist

Current Company/Industry: Private Practice

Current City: Vancouver

What does your work space look like today?

How does the major your studied in your undergraduate degree relate to your current work?

My degree served as a great prerequisite for my career as a clinician. I learned the foundations that underpin the current best practices in physiotherapy and sports medicine through my degree. The strong emphasis on interpreting primary literature has also been an amazing skill to analyze and evaluate the efficacy of current best practices in my field.

What choices did you make during your degree that contributed toward your career path today?

I chose to focus my learning on physiology and neuroscience which are the bedrock of everything clinical I use in practice. I also chose to do a year-long directed studies project in my final year which helped me run a study with the lab I was involved with at the time.

Did you have any meaningful experiences at UBC outside the classroom that helped contribute to your skillset? 

I was lucky to be involved with several great initiatives and groups during my time at UBC. I was involved in student government with the Science Undergraduate Society's executive team, UBC Orientations as an Orientations Leader, Grassroot Soccer UBC as club president and the Global Lounge as a community animator. My work with UBC Orientations and the Global Lounge were eye-opening experiences. I got to interact with students from different backgrounds and enhance my communication skills. As a clinician, the therapeutic alliance between the patient and myself are sometimes the most valuable tools that mediate recovery. My experiences have given me a great grasp on building relationships in the workplace, with members of the community, other healthcare providers, and my patients.

What do you wish you knew before graduation?

Take this time to explore areas you are interested in. I had an Intro to Spanish course in my last year as an undergraduate student and I loved it. I ended up wishing I was more adventurous with electives. I would also say try to meet as many people as you can during your time at UBC. You will be amazed at the great network you can build during your time as an undergraduate student.

What kind of challenges did you encounter in your career after graduation?

The learning never stops! If anything, I realized that the more I learned, the less that I knew. This was frustrating at first but I learned to embrace these uncertainties as a professional (see Dunning-Kruger Effect). The challenges as a clinician in my field became more about managing my own expectations, managing burnout, and embracing every challenging interaction as a learning opportunity.

Does your current occupation align with what you had planned when you entered UBC? How about when you graduated?

I tore my ACL in the first term of my first year at UBC. I worked with many amazing healthcare providers during that time. One of them was my physiotherapist, Chris Franks, who was able to reassure me and encourage me to work hard at my recovery. I made up my mind to pursue the career shortly after that and have never looked back since.

What is something career-related that surprised you after graduation?

Burn out is a real thing. Everyone needs a vacation sometime. I never had an aversion to hard work and being busy during my 7-8 years at UBC, but I had to learn to take a breather to be more productive later on. I also realized what aspects of my job that I loved the most. I started to recognize that the most meaningful parts of my job related to teaching. I spend a lot of time with my clients educating them on their condition, how to manage it, etc. and that is the most powerful tool in my toolbox to build a person's self-efficacy and help their recovery. In fact, I loved it so much I started a quarterly lecture series in the community that combines my academic passion of knowledge translation and teaching to allow every clinician to enhance their practice.

Do you have a specific career plan from now until your retirement? 

I have a general idea of what I want to do from now until retirement. I definitely see myself continuing on as a clinician even if I cross over into operating my own clinic. I am in the process of working with a network of like-minded healthcare providers with a passion for providing the best evidence-informed care in musculoskeletal medicine. I would love to add in a role in education in the future, be it supervising physiotherapy students in the clinic or instructing a course. I consistently battle back and forth with starting a part-time research involvement to investigate some clinical questions I encounter in daily practice. I have plenty of years left in this career so I am sure I will commit to it at some point.

Iyad's last word:

Try and have some fun during your schooling! You have a lot of time for adulting later on.

Do you usually work:

Do you do most of your work:

In your current position, are you more:

Do you find your work is:

Do you make:

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.