“I knew that (diagnosis) really affected her – both emotionally and with the overall quality of life,” said Yutuc. “My biggest motivation was that I could help people in the same population.”
He is set to graduate with a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) at 2021 Fall Convocation on November 10.
By pursuing a degree in physical therapy at USask’s School of Rehabilitation Science, Yutuc is also following in the footsteps of his parents, both of whom are in the medical field.
Yutuc became interested in physical therapy while earning his bachelor’s degree in physiology and pharmacology at USask. He looked into the ways rehabilitation could help individuals with Parkinson’s. A career in physical therapy offered the chance to make a positive difference in this area. Yutuc chose USask for his master’s program because of the school’s research emphasis as well as the inclusive environment.
“The thing that got my attention was their focus on research, along with developing the profession and furthering it through evidence-based practice,” said Yutuc, noting the school’s promotion of health equity and inclusiveness was also a factor. “As a minority student, I really wanted to be part of a school that advocated for that. Those are some of the same values that are also important to me.”
Health inequity was something he saw during his clinical experiences in urban and rural locations.
“When talking to different patients about their progress and experience through the medical system, I found that it’s harder for people within minority groups to access health care or resources compared to non-minority groups,” said Yutuc.
While at the school, Yutuc has been a leader among his peers and an advocate for physical therapy. He served as a representative on both the Physical Therapy Students Society and the MPT admissions committee, helped organize multiple mini-interviews (part of the admissions process until recently), and promoted both the school and the profession to undergraduate students across the university. In addition, Yutuc has helped create connections and community among his classmates during the pandemic.
“I was one of the peer leaders for first year students, in a time when the early days of the pandemic kept students from gathering in-person,” said Yutuc. “The first few months I was able to help organize community events where they could see each other and help each other through schooling, too.”
The pandemic has impacted learning for all USask students, including those in physical therapy. Yutuc credits the School of Rehabilitation Science for the ability to shift learning and continue to provide educational opportunities during the pandemic.
“The school was really good in being able to transition and adapt to the current (public health) guidelines. Thankfully we were able to go into a hybrid system where we were doing classes online. They gave us the opportunity to do our labs and our clinical skills in person as well,” said Yutuc.
He was grateful for the resources instructors and faculty created for Yutuc and his classmates to use at home, acknowledging the extra work faculty put in to provide student resources.
Yutuc is optimistic about his chosen profession and sees multiple possibilities for his career path. He participated in a research project on Parkinson’s disease with Dr. Sarah Donkers (PhD), an assistant professor in the school, and can see a future in research.
“In terms of my long-term goals, I definitely want to dig into academia and research,” he said. ”Research has bene one of my biggest interests, but also teaching. One of my main goals is to help advocate for the profession itself.”
This fall, 926 students are expected to graduate from USask with 939 degrees, diplomas and certificates. These graduates join a century-old community of close to 165,000 alumni worldwide whose contributions are helping to shape our world. Due to the pandemic, in-person ceremonies will not be held. Instead, there are a variety of opportunities to celebrate. Learn more about the celebrations at students.usask.ca/usaskclassof2021.