Debbie Ehrmann-Feldman, PT, MSc, PhD, received the 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award. Dr. Ehrmann-Feldman is a professor in the School of Rehabilitation and on the medicine faculty in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and School of Public Health at the University of Montreal, Canada. She is also a researcher in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Montreal.
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“I’m really honored to be in the company of others who have won this or similar awards,” says Dr. Ehrmann-Feldman. “I’m happy that there’s recognition of my work and that people feel it is valuable.”
Over the past 40 years, Dr. Ehrmann-Feldman has made numerous contributions to the field of medicine, specifically in the areas of pediatric and adult rheumatology, musculoskeletal disorders, inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, low back pain, organization of care, ethical and clinical issues in rehabilitation, knowledge translation and advocacy. Her long list of accomplishments includes 220 peer reviewed abstracts, more than 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and numerous scholarships and career awards from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, Arthritis Society of Canada, Canadian Arthritis Network and the Research Foundation of Quebec for Health Research.
After earning her MSc degree in 1984 from McGill University, Montreal, Dr. Ehrmann-Feldman took nine years off to raise her family while working part time as a physical therapist, research assistant and instructor at the same university. Then, between 1993 and 1998, she returned to McGill as a student to complete her PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics.
Two years later, she joined the faculty at the University of Montreal as an assistant professor, climbed the ranks and became a full professor in 2011 while also serving as the director of graduate studies in rehabilitation sciences until 2017.
Throughout her career, she has mentored more than 60 students, explored ethical dimensions related to access to physiotherapy and focused on issues related to third party payers and potential conflicts of interest, physical therapy management of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, promotion of physical activity in children and youth with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and investigated birth outcomes in women who had JIA.
Currently, she’s researching direct referral of patients with suspected inflammatory arthritis by physical therapists to rheumatologists, conducting health services research in musculoskeletal disease and arthritis and investigating both access to care in rehabilitation and optimal ways of prioritizing care for patients with chronic musculoskeletal problems and arthritis.
While a member of the ARHP for the past decade, she sat on the Research Committee of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada and previously served on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, where she still co-chairs its Research Ambassador Knowledge Translation Committee.
“I have some research projects up my sleeve,” says Dr. Ehrmann-Feldman, pointing to one that involves the association between oral health and JIA. “I’ve had quite a long career and plan to continue with my research.”