Dr. Patricia Tavares
Dr. Patricia Tavares

Your Board Candidates Answer Three Townhall Questions

1. What do you think is currently the most important opportunity (or highest priority) for the chiropractic profession in Ontario and why?

The most significant opportunity is in developing more formal constructs for interprofessional collaboration to managing patient health care in a patient-centred way. I believe that the profession could take a lead position in this regard working with other professions in advancing the health care available to patients.

2. What do you think is the most important role OCA can play during the next three years?

I believe that the OCA can play a key role for the OCA membership in advocating for the advancement of chiropractic practice as part of patient-centric health care, through scope of practice and collaboration with other health professionals, as well as in ongoing efforts to educate the public and other key stakeholders.
Examples of how this can be done include collaborating with members to mine data from across the Ontario chiropractic profession, for example through anonymized data collection of conditions seen and evaluations of success with treatment plans in the form of outcome measures. Such data could potentially then be used to support advocating with government for scope of practice advancement by providing specific detail regarding the number of patients seen and outcomes from treatments.

3. What key difference do you want to make during your tenure on the OCA Board of Directors (for 2024-2027)?

I would like to move into more of a leadership role on the Board of Directors to have greater involvement in the strategic direction of the OCA, as well as providing my insights and perspectives on challenges to the profession along with bringing pragmatic ideas and solutions to the table, in support of the membership.
Examples of such ideas and solutions include: supporting the provision of a library of the most important and up-to-date literature that provides easy and ready access to Ontario chiropractors that will make a difference to them in their daily practice; mentorship and guides to practice for new graduates; and, advocating for chiropractic specialists to be used as consultants and leaders of the profession with respect to research, interprofessional collaboration and integration into larger patient care settings such as hospitals.
These types of activities should always aim to bring value to you, the members of the OCA, and make you feel supported in your daily practice life.

Biographical Profile

Why did you become 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.

Where do you practise?

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.

What is your 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.

Credentials and Designations

  • Clinical Director of World Spine Care (WSC) Clinics (as of 2023) and the Coordinator of the Dominican Republic Project
  • Spinal stenosis program by Dr. Carlo Ammendolia, 2020
  • Good Life with Arthritis: Denmark (GLA:D), 2018
  • Acupuncture from the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute, 2005
  • Fellow of the College of Chiropractic Orthopaedic Specialists (Canada) or FCCOS(C) (specialty designation in orthopedics), 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, 1995
  • BSc. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Toronto, 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); past council member of the CCO
  • Volunteer with Health Mission Outreach, Homeless Connect Toronto, and World Spine Care

Leadership Engagement

What skills will you bring to the board?

The skill set I would bring to the board includes experience in board work, including that of the OCA Board for the last three years. I bring a strong work ethic to any task or project that I am asked to participate in or that I seek out. I bring a wealth of experience in owning and running a practice and in teaching students to be good diagnosticians, good adjusters and ethical business owners. I also have experience with carrying out, appraising, and publishing research. I am experienced in collaborating with others in solving complex problems and offering innovative solutions and ideas.

Do you conduct research related to chiropractic?

de Luca K, Tavares P, Yang H, Hurwitz EL, Green BN, Dale H, Haldeman S. Spinal Pain, Chronic Health Conditions and Health Behaviors: Data from the 2016-2018 National Health Interview Survey. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Apr 3;20(7):5369. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20075369. PMID: 37047983; PMCID: PMC10094294
Yang H, Hurwitz EL, Li J, de Luca K, Tavares P, Green B, Haldeman S. Bidirectional Comorbid Associations between Back Pain and Major Depression in US Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2023; 20(5):4217. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054217
Green BN, et al. BMJ Open 2023;13:e075382. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2023-075382 Association between spinal and non-spinal health conditions reported in epidemiological studies: a scoping review protocol.

Do you now, or have you previously served on other boards?

I’m proud to have participated in OCA’s strategic planning sessions in 2020 and 2023. I participate regularly in Board Meetings and contribute to all aspects of board activities. I also value the opportunity to provide insights as part of my contributions to the OCA’s Finance and Audit Committee and the Research Committee.

Do you volunteer in your community generally and/or for the profession specifically?

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 annual 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 the COVID-19 pandemic). 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 lead the project which set up a clinic in Moca, Dominican Republic in 2014, which is currently using the Global Spine Care Initiative (GSCI) 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 workingat the clinic. This model of care is being used at WSC’s other clinics in India, Botswana and Ghana.   In the future, I’m looking forward to seeing the implementation of the 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 the WSC GSCI implementation in Manitoba with an indigenous community, and contributing to papers that speak to the association of spine disorders with various comorbidities.
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.”
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 person-centred care, incorporating their values and 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.