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4. Identify, treat, and refer to support

Ms. Maureen Parkinson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor, M.Ed. C.C.R.C, BC Cancer

Ms. Maureen Parkinson is the province-wide vocational rehabilitation counsellor at the BC Cancer Agency. She has also been vocational rehabilitation counsellor at a public rehabilitation hospital and vocational rehabilitation consultant to insurance companies and the court system. She has instructed and facilitated Service-Canada-funded programs on job searching and career exploration. Ms. Parkinson has a Masters in Counselling Psychology, is a Canadian Certified Rehabilitation Counsellor, and completed the Certified Return to Work Coordinator Program through the National Institute for Disability Management and Research. She has developed return-to-work and job-search seminars for cancer patients and created the guidebook “Cancer and Returning to Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients” as well as on-line articles about returning to work and school. She also co-authored a paper commissioned by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, “Cancer and Work: A Canadian Perspective”.

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Dr. Christine Maheu, RN, PhD

Dr. Christine Maheu is an Associate Professor in the Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. Dr. Maheu is also an Affiliate Scientist at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. At McGill University, she teaches research methods, supervises graduate students (masters, doctoral, post-doctoral), mentors practicing nurses and students in research, and conducts research in English and French. She has held research awards with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. These awards funded her research in psychosocial oncology, which focuses on developing and testing psychosocial interventions or measurements tools for various cancer populations. Additionally, in partnership with Ipsos Canada and funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, she is co-leading a nationwide survey of the needs of cancer patients for transition care from the end of their treatment to three years after their diagnosis. Dr. Maheu received awards for excellence in nursing research (2013, 2015, 2016) from Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology, and the Quebec Association of Nurses in Oncology.

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Step 4 of 11 in getting ready to return to work:

After assessing the barriers and facilitators to return to work using the Vocational Model from Step One and assessing functional challenges from Step 2 in comparison to the demands of the job from Step 3, one of the next steps is in helping the cancer survivor identify and access helpful supports and resources. This could include providing medical treatments and symptom management, rehabilitation (which can include psychological treatment if needed), and/or referring the cancer survivor to other professionals (such as pain and symptom management, rehabilitation, psychological support, vocational rehabilitation, and social work) to help reduce overcome these challenges.

As a healthcare provider, you can do much to aid cancer survivors return to work by developing your knowledge of available rehabilitation, psychological and advocacy support resources (cancer and non-cancer specific), from the community sources, private sectors and other health care agencies. This can include referring to employment and vocational rehabilitation support (see: Links to Services and Resources) and human rights advocacy groups that exist in the cancer survivors community.

Next step:

Step 5: Communicate about return to work

Back to the list of return to work preparation steps