Dr. Patricia Tavares
Dr. Patricia TavaresDirector

Journey to Becoming a Chiropractor

After graduating, I immediately decided to open my own practice. Someone told me, “Make sure that your practice is where you would want to live.” For me, that was the High Park area in Toronto, and I practised in the same location for 14 years. I truly enjoyed helping my patients and being able to use my diagnostic capabilities to the fullest. I would still be in practice there today had my hands not failed. After four hand surgeries, my surgeon said, “You need to stop.” Despite having a vibrant, amazing practice, I had to give it up. I’m now an Associate Professor and Primary Clinician at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC).

Today, my teaching involves patient case management, adjusting skills, helping interns develop their diagnostic capabilities and lecturing on topics such as rheumatology, neurologic disorders, orthopedics and so on. In my former practice, I had focused on pregnancy and pediatrics, and I continue this focus through teaching in clinic. This includes teaching how to complete a proper newborn exam with respect to orthopedics and neurology in an evidence-based way, and how to know when a referral to a medical specialist is necessary.

Region of Practice and Clinical Work

I practise at CMCC’s Sherbourne Health clinic. The population that we see at the clinic is socioeconomically disadvantaged, with chronic pain and multiple comorbidities.

I also have a small home-based practice and offer mobile chiropractic services for patients in need.

Credentials and Designations

  • Clinical Director of World Spine Care Clinics (as of 2023) and the Coordinator of the Dominican Republic Project
  • Spinal stenosis program by Dr. Carlo Ammendolia in 2020
  • Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D) in 2018
  • Acupuncture from the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute in 2005
  • Fellow of the College of Chiropractic Orthopaedic Specialists (Canada) or FCCOS(C) (specialty designation in orthopedics) in 2004
  • American Disabilities Index, 5th in 2003: trained in the process of assessing and rating a patient’s permanent impairment
  • Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) from CMCC in 1995
  • BSc. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Toronto in 1991
  • Member of various boards including the OCA, College of Chiropractic Orthopaedic Specialists (Canada), World Spine Care (WSC) Canada, and the Guideline
  • Executive Committee of the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI).
  • Volunteer with Health Mission Outreach, Homeless Connect Toronto, and WSC

My Motto or Mantra

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s so important to learn to be an active advocate, whether for someone else or yourself.

Leadership Engagement

OCA Initiatives and Achievements

I’m proud to have participated in OCA’s strategic planning refresh back in 2020 when I first joined its Board of Directors. I also value the opportunity to provide insights as part of my contributions to the OCA’s Finance and Audit Committee.

In addition, I contributed to The Role of Chiropractic in Opioid Use Reduction, an online CE course, developed by OCA and CMCC, as the author of the 4th chapter on “Communicating with Other Health Care Professionals.”

Finally, I’m particularly excited about the future of OCA Aspire. As a member of the OCA Board of Directors, I contributed to the due diligence work as part of the expanded commercialization plan of OCA Aspire 2.3, which benefits members at large. From a research perspective, I fully support its adaptation to research projects and data collection across the country.

Community and Volunteer Work

I’ve been volunteering and contributing to various organizations locally, provincially, and nationally for over a decade.

One of the first organizations I volunteered with was Health Mission Outreach (HMO), where I was its first chiropractor in a multidisciplinary setting with dentists, medical doctors, optometrists, nutritionists and others, caring for patients that couldn’t afford care in the GTA. I did this for a few years and then started engaging CMCC students on these outreaches. I also travelled to Guatemala in 2017 and 2019 with HMO. My goal with this work was to empower people to self-manage as well as connect them to care that can help them achieve optimal health.

In 2012, I also started traveling to the Dominican Republic (DR) with CMCC interns in a 10-day outreach that provided otherwise unattainable chiropractic care for patients with Musculoskeletal (MSK) issues. I’ve been involved with these CMCC Outreach Abroad trips to the DR every year since then (except during COVID-19). Following an evidence-based and interdisciplinary model, we treat and educate patients, and connect them to professionals within their own health care system for additional necessary care which may include orthopedic surgeons or pediatric specialists known to our host medical doctor. We also connect them to the in-country WSC clinic if possible.

Currently, most of my volunteering is done through WSC. With its support and help of others, I was able to set up a clinic in Moca, Dominican Republic in 2014, which is currently using the Global Spine Care Initiative model of care to treat spine-related disorders. It offers care at no cost to anyone that needs it. Volunteers, who are chiropractors or physiotherapists, spend a year of their careers working either at the main clinic or the newly opened satellite clinic in a local hospital in a nearby town. In the future, I’m looking forward to seeing the implementation of the Global Spine Care Initiative (GSCI) model in Nepal and in other low and middle income countries where evidence-based primary spine care is unavailable to those in need.

I’m also actively involved in research with WSC, contributing to papers that speak to the association of spine disorders with various comorbidities. Additionally, I serve on the executive committee of the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI).

Through my various activities, my goal is to promote the chiropractic profession on a global level as part of a multidisciplinary team of care for spine patients.

I also feel that my community and volunteer contributions have made me a better clinician and a better learner. For example, helping patients internationally has taught me the importance of patient preferences and incorporating their belief systems when preparing an effective shared care plan. It’s extremely rewarding to see progress over the years not just in this work but also in myself as a professional.