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Practitioner Spotlight: Curtis Bouliane, PT

Curtis Bouliane - OHP Kelowna Physiotherapist

My name is Curtis Bouliane. I am a registered physiotherapist and have lived in the Okanagan for close to 20 years. I grew up in West Kelowna and graduated from Mount Boucherie in 2006. I completed my Bachelors of Science degree at UBCO in 2011, then moved to Aberdeen, Scotland at the end of 2014 to begin my Masters of Physiotherapy degree at Robert Gordon University. This opportunity enabled me to study for my future career, while also travelling the UK and Europe, experiencing many different languages and cultures. In June 2017, my wife and I moved back to Canada.

What got me hooked on physiotherapy was my involvement in sports. Growing up, I participated in just about every sport you can name. During highschool I played a lot of football, with this leading to tryouts for several teams and being named a provincial all-star runningback. I accepted an offer to play for the Okanagan Sun Football Team, and was with the team for several years.

Physiotherapy played such a big role throughout my athletic endeavours, not only when injuries occurred but also in athletic optimization to reduce the risk of future injuries.

I met several Physiotherapists along the way that really made an impression on me by taking a holistic approach to sports injury management that produced seriously meaningful results to the athlete. This ability to inspire patients to overcome obstacles through hard work and evidence-based practice drove me to earn a career in the field of physiotherapy. Prior to entering physiotherapy school, I had already dedicated most of my time to volunteering with or working close to physiotherapists.

How long have you been practising?

My first student work placement was in June 2015, which means I’ve had nearly 3 years of clinical experience now. However, I worked at Connect Lake Country (a brain injury rehabilitation centre), and volunteered with the Okanagan Sun between 2011 and 2014 which was where I began learning about the practice of physiotherapy.

What problems/issues do you see most frequently?

Lately I have been working with quite a few clients with vertigo. Musculoskeletal conditions form the bulk of my caseload, with lots of neck and back pain in addition to the odd knee or shoulder.

Favorite thing about your job?

The fact that my training enables me to help people improve their quality of life via a variety of different approaches.

If someone at a party asks you what you do, how do you respond?

I’ll proudly say that I am a physiotherapist. I might have to change this response in the future because I end up spending most casual nights out being asked to assess the new acquaintance’s physical ailments when I should be relaxing!

What are your biggest frustrations in running your practice?

When clients are not active components in their own health. I see myself as a guide to those hoping to achieve goals, and what happens between appointments is just as important as what happens in appointments.

How do you manage work and life? Stress management/avoiding burnout

My wife Katherine has always been a big source of support for me. She always ensures I am well-fed, well-rested, and keeping in touch with my friends/family.

Can you tell us about your most uplifting experience when treating a client?

This would have to be when patients who have had a serious incident like a stroke first accomplish a massive goal, like standing up or walking on their own power. Another example is when one of my patients that I treated for vertigo felt her symptoms go away in mere moments, after having been dizzy and nauseous for several weeks prior.

What was the most interesting case you have ever worked on?

There was a patient I saw who had sustained several injuries across his upper and lower body, and needed to return to his job that involved being on stilts most of the day. I enjoyed the variety of rehabilitation approaches this case called for, and I even got to try out the stilts to fully appreciate the demands of his job!

What TV show character do you identify most with?

A combination of Survivorman, Dwight Schrute and Constable Benton Fraser.

What was your first job?

My paper route when I was about 11 or 12. It was a few hundred newspapers and my parents lived on a steep hill. I saved up my earnings for a set of skis, then kept saving to buy my first car at 16.

What is your most treasured possession?

My mind, body and memories. I’m quite minimalistic otherwise.

If you had one month off, where would you go or what would you do?

Based on an unlimited budget and teleportation between destinations…
Week 1: Visit my best friend from PT school in California. Him and his wife just had twins that I’ve yet to meet!
Week 2: Head back to Scotland and visit the old haunts
Week 3: Travel to South Africa where my wife was born.
Week 4: Slow things down and go on a hiking/camping/fishing/bushcrafting excursion in the Kootenays.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A pilot in the Air Force. I’ve always been drawn to flight, which is why I spent nearly 7 years in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. During my physiotherapy training I spent two of my placements on or near Air Force bases. I’ve got a few friends who are pilots now, so negative Gs (weightlessness) are only a phone call away!

What do you consider your biggest professional achievement so far?

Passing my Canadian national physiotherapy exams on the first attempt as a foreign trained applicant (even many Canadian-trained applicants don’t pass the first time). I dedicated my summer and fall of 2017 to that challenge, and it paid off!

What is on the top of your bucket list?

I don’t have a bucket list, because I would hate to get to the end of it one day and then think “What now?”. I much prefer to always be open to new experiences and chances to learn new things or practice new skills.

Is there something unique that people might not know about you? (hobbies, hidden talents, etc.)

I was in the running to train as a professional bobsledder at one point. In 2004 there were recruitment sessions across the country looking for young athletes with a background in football, rugby, weightlifting and track and field. At that time I was participating in all of those sports. I placed well in Kelowna tryouts, then finished first with my partner at the BC Winter Games, earning an invite to train in Calgary. Moving to Calgary was not in the cards at that time, and so the story ends there, but ever since I have always been passionate about volunteering with local sports teams to help what may be the future olympians achieve their goals!

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