Golden Hands Award Winner – Diane Lee – 2008

It is my pleasure to present the Golden Hands award to this physio who epitomizes the qualities of exceptional clinician, educator, and mentor that David Lamb stood for. She has demonstrated a continued commitment to the Canadian physiotherapy profession and specifically the Orthopaedic Division, despite her international fame.

Diane Lee was awarded the Gold Medal as she graduated with a BSc in Rehab at UBC in 1976. She completed her Intermediate and Advanced Certificates in Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy in 1980 and 1981 respectively and certified in Gunn IMS in 2001.

Diane began teaching shortly after completing her manual therapy credentials, and was the lead instructor in the first full time Intermediate Manual Therapy Course in Canada. This set a prototype for academic and clinical instruction for the coming years. Diane has taught extensively across Canada in the Ortho Division Manual Therapy Course System and led the committee for the development and update of the early syllabus for the Level Courses. Diane also teaches specialized courses on the lumbar spine, pelvis, thorax, post partum health and manipulation, across Canada and throughout the world. She is a sought after key note speaker both nationally and internationally. She is the only person that I know of who can effectively present a 60 minute paper in 45 minutes!

Diane became an examiner for the Orthopaedic Division in 1984 and continues in this position currently. She was also a Chief Examiner from 1991- 2000. Diane was instrumental in the development of the standardized format for the Oral/Practical component of the National Exams used today.

As an owner/director of her private practices, Diane has been an outstanding role model and mentor for many young physiotherapists who have also become extremely accomplished in their own right – Jan Lowcock, Mari Walsh and LJ Lee to name a few. As LJ expressed in her nomination letter, “while working at Diane’s clinic, I experienced first hand Diane’s passion for learning and her innate capacity for facilitating the development of physiotherapists at all stages of their education. Despite the busy demands of an international teaching schedule, clinic management and her own clinical caseload, Diane often created spontaneous learning situations in the clinic when interesting patients presented, and was happy to offer feedback and skill development ‘on the fly’ during the clinical day.” She is also a mentor for many of the other instructors in the Manual Therapy Course System, always having time to answer an email or phone call about a multitude of topics.

I met Diane Lee when I enrolled on the first Intermediate Manual Therapy Course in Vancouver 26 years ago. What I remember best to this day was her energy, enthusiasm and positive support. Now, I do also remember long / loud debates on anatomy & biomechanics at the bar every Friday night! Some of our best learning was accomplished there, or so it seemed at the time. Even then, Diane practiced evidence based practice, though the term had not yet been coined. She devoured all the scientific literature and applied this information to her clinical practice, evaluating her outcomes on a daily basis. She also shared this knowledge base with thousands as she taught her courses and wrote her books. She has driven and collaborated on many research projects through her intelligent clinical questions, and some of the hypothetical models she has helped develop.

In the clinic, Diane has proven herself as an exceptional manual therapist, she truly has ‘golden hands’. She embraces a variety of techniques in her integrated approach to treatment. She continues to attend courses to further develop her skills as a clinician and widen her available tools of practice. She blends manual techniques with specific therapeutic exercise, much of which she has helped develop, along with needling to achieve significant results, most often with a chronic and complex patient group. She is a lifelong learner, possibly following the role model of one of her early mentors, Cliff Fowler, the first recipient of the Golden Hands Award, and continues to question and investigate every aspect of her clinical practice.

Diane Lee has also gained an international reputation, through her endless list of symposium paper presentations, journal articles, courses, and her several chapters, eight books, and DVDs. She has showcased Canada on the international scene, for which we should all be proud and grateful. She sits on several journal editorial boards, sharing her expertise with other countries. Despite this international attention, Diane still manages to continue to teach on a regular basis in Canada. We appreciate that!

I quote from Jan Lowcock in her letter supporting Diane’s nomination: ‘To me, Diane will be the person who took the time and had the discipline to do what many of us do not…… commit her ideas to paper. She is a gifted public speaker, giving voice to the ideas of the clinical world. She has been able to translate the things we see and feel into written and spoken word. The identity of every culture, group or profession with a unique body of knowledge, depends upon the presence of the skilled practitioner, the creative thinker, the writer and the engaging raconteur. For Canadian manual therapists Dianne Lee has been all of these, and thus deserves our recognition and our thanks.’

Cliff Fowler could not be here today, but submitted this as support for Dianne’s nomination: “Rarely in any profession does someone excel so much that it lifts all other people in the same profession. Although this superb physiotherapist is not a golfer the analogy of “Tiger Woods” is the best that I can offer. As a lifelong friend of David, I know he would be overjoyed at the selection of Diane Lee for this award as he held her in the highest esteem.”

Diane, thank you for all you have done for us, and all I know you will continue to do in the years ahead. Please come forward to accept your Golden Hands award.

— Carol Kennedy FCAMT