Golden Hands Award Winner – Jan Lowcock – 2013

Jan Lowcock, this year’s Golden Hand Award recipient truly epitomizes the qualities of exceptional clinician, educator, and mentor that David Lamb stood for. She has demonstrated a tireless continued commitment to the Canadian physiotherapy profession and specifically the Orthopaedic Division throughout her career and continues at this today. Although Jan is retiring from both instructing and examining at the end of this year, I know she will stay involved.

“Jan was awarded the Gold Medal as she graduated with a BScPT at Queen’s University in 1979. She completed her Advanced Certificate in Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy in 1986.

Jan can truly be described as a lifelong learner. In 2009 she returned to school, enrolling in the Masters of Clinical Science in Manip Therapy at UWO, graduating in 2010 with 3 publications under her belt. She continues to do research work for the Cochrane Group and is also involved with the IMPACT Hip studies in Vancouver. Jan has also been an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy since 2002 until this year.


Jan began teaching shortly after completing her manual therapy credentials, and quickly moved her way up the Level System teaching across Canada. She was also a Clinical Instructor for one of the UBC final year manual therapy courses for several years. She is an excellent instructor, taking complicated concepts and organizing them into the basic components to assist participants in grasping the required knowledge. She has always been a strong proponent of clinical reasoning and has developed this attribute in the many young physiotherapists that she has mentored over many years. In 2005, Jan received an Award of Excellence for Education from the Physiotherapy Association of BC. We have had a longstanding discussion about Jan being vertically challenged, but she has been able to assist many operators in methods to be effective manipulators despite their smaller stature.


Jan became an examiner for the Orthopaedic Division in 1995 and continues in this position currently. She was also a Chief Examiner for 14 years. As the Chair of the Chief Examiner’s Board for several years, Jan became known as the ‘wordsmith’. Whether it is preparing a written document, speaking to a large group, or summarizing the key elements of a long heated debate, Jan never ceased to amaze us in her ability to perform flawlessly. Whenever there was a politically sensitive document that needed to be written, the group would look to Jan as one of the most succinct and articulate writers that we know. Even though officially retired as a Chief Examiner, Jan continues to be asked to do the occasional edit to an important document when the rest of the group has exhausted their abilities! She takes on these projects willingly. She has just completed the onerous task of revising the Level 4/5 spinal manipulation manual.


Jan owned and operated a very successful private practice in Vancouver, where she has been an outstanding role model and mentor for many physiotherapists who have also become extremely accomplished in their own right. Her mandate to supply the highest quality of physiotherapy services set a very high bar for standard of care in Vancouver.


Jan continues to work with physiotherapists undertaking the manual therapy credentialing exams assisting with the Clinical Supervised Hours. Jan has also been a mentor for many of the other Canadian Instructors as well as Examiners.


Jan has also been involved in the physiotherapy profession on the political front. She was a Board member and then President of the BC Association of Physiotherapists in Private Practice in the early 90’s and continued on as a member of the fee negotiation committee for several more years following that. In the clinic, Jan has proven herself as an exceptional manual therapist. 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, and is always an active listener with her patients, truly applying the concept of client centered care within evidence informed practice. Jan is well known for her interest and expertise in the thoracic spine, and in fact was instrumental in the early stages of the development of the proposed model of function that Diane Lee has published on.


In nominating Jan for this award, Kate Kennedy wrote:

As my teacher when I was a student just entering the Orthopaedic Division system of courses, Jan was inspiring, smart, clear and fun. Jan has inspired me to be the best physiotherapist I can be, in the immediate clinical setting, in teaching and mentoring other physiotherapists and physio students, and in the community at large. Her ability to encourage others to take chances and lead demonstrates the understated confidence she has in those around her. She has been a guiding force for a generation of physiotherapists who will continue to try to do her credit and carry on the legacy.


May Nolan wrote:

As an Instructor, Jan is clear, insightful, knowledgeable, and supportive. As an Examiner Jan is gentle, welcoming and encouraging. As a Chief Examiner Jan was communicative, helpful, open minded and conversant with evidence based medicine and current professional practice issues in manual therapy. It is rare to find someone with the skill set, the attributes, the career achievements, the progressive thinking, and the leadership and yet the level of humility that Jan displays.


I will conclude with some words from Laurie Urban – he wrote:

The real reason that Jan is deserving of the Golden Hands Award is that, like David Lamb, Jan has made a difference in the orthopaedic manual therapy world. Jan has made a difference individually to all those lucky enough to know her. She has made a difference locally, provincially and nationally for all physical therapists that practice manual therapy. Jan has done this quietly without fanfare in a professional manner for 30 years. During those 30 years Jan has given unselfishly of her time and talent for the betterment of her profession and manual therapy specifically. Jan is one of those who lead by example and what an example she has set.


Jan will you please come forward to receive the Golden Hands Award.”