Alumni Profile: Lynn Irving

 DAL PT: Class of 1976

In this issue of Physiotherapy Matters, the School of Physiotherapy is delighted to feature Lynn Irving, an alumna from the Class of 1976 and benefactor of the newly established Lynn Irving scholarship. 

Lynn Irving knew she would pursue a career in the health professions well before completing her Bachelor of Science degree. It was a suggestion of a friend that sparked Lynn’s interest in Physiotherapy at Dalhousie.

Lynn explains, “The pursuit of health and wellness, along with being active in sports and other activities, was a big part of my life. It seemed like a good fit for me as a career choice.”

Following her graduation from the Dalhousie School of Physiotherapy in 1976, Lynn worked in various hospitals and clinics in St. John, New Brunswick. In 1992, she founded, and served as President of the Work Ready Professional Corporation, a private, multidisciplinary occupational rehabilitation and work hardening clinic. She then accepted a position as an Internal Consultant with Irving Health Services, J. D. Irving, Ltd., where she led a team at Irving Health Services in the development and implementation of Workplace Health, Wellness, Productivity and Disability Management Programs that garnered national awards and recognition.

While working, and raising a family, Lynn stayed active in church and school activities, and was involved in a variety of community volunteer organizations and boards, and fundraising initiatives.  Some of these activities included serving as: a School Board Trustee for District 19 in Rothesay; a member of the Board of Governors of Rothesay Netherwood School; a member of the Board of Governors for Dalhousie University; and a member and Chair of the Stan Cassidy Center for Rehabilitation Foundation Board. Presently Lynn is an acting member of the Board of Directors of IWK, as well on the Board of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.

Physiotherapy has been a big part of Lynn’s identity for the past 43 years.  In Lynn’s words, “I have enjoyed being a part of a Health Care profession that encompasses so many aspects of the health and lives of individuals and patients.” Lynn sees Physiotherapists as having a role to play throughout the continuum of the care and management of many health-related conditions “…from the prevention of illnesses and injuries, right through to the active treatment of those with acute and chronic conditions, followed by functional restoration, getting people back to work and active at their optimal level and ability throughout their lives.”

Lynn recognizes the analytical and practical skills possessed by Physiotherapists which allow them to not only treat, but teach, consult, and do research in various locations and settings.  “Physiotherapists are a very special people, in many ways.” Lynn expounds, “They have many transferrable skills and can be very resourceful and practical, while almost always maintaining a positive outlook and sense of humor, along with empathy and understanding.”

When asked what personal achievement she is most proud of, Lynn responds without hesitation, “my family, and the opportunity, along with my husband Jim, to have raised four wonderful children, who are now successful and productive adults.”

Following that, the accomplishments she feels a great deal of satisfaction from involve activities that help people in a meaningful and impactful way. Activities like the founding and incorporation of her clinic in the 1990’s; chairing a major fundraising project in 2002 for the Muriel McQueen Ferguson Foundation to support Research and Programs to deal with the issue of Domestic Violence; and more recently, chairing a capital fundraising campaign to raise $15 million to establish a medical research program at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.


Lynn has seen a great deal of change in Physiotherapy throughout her professional career. She cites the collaboration of health teams, a multidisciplinary approach, and the treatment of the whole person, among those changes that have offered the most valuable impact. Lynn includes the utilization of evidence based practise, and being held accountable by providing objective measured outcomes, among the practices that contribute to the progression of the Physiotherapy Profession.

When asked what one thing she would change to contribute in the advancement of Physiotherapy? Lynn proposes the importance of retaining as many practising professionals as possible, making sure their professional skills and abilities are utilized and recognized. Lynn clarifies, “Professional retention depends greatly on job satisfaction, and the three things that will contribute the most to job satisfaction are positive patient outcomes, continuing education, and opportunities for career advancement leading to autonomy in clinical treatment and decision making, and receiving recognition from patients, clients and colleagues.  Most professionals want to feel that as they move their career forward they are recognized for their unique strengths and skills and are respected by their peer group, as well as the other health professionals with whom they collaborate.”

The Lynn Irving Scholarship

Lynn can well remember trying to make ends meet when she was a student and understands that it is even more challenging now for students as they have the added burden of having to pay for an undergraduate degree and then facing the tuition of a graduate degree if they wish to pursue a career in Physiotherapy. This knowledge influenced her decision to start a Scholarship for full time students entering the MScPT program with Dal’s School of Physiotherapy. Lynn shares “I have been fortunate in my life and in my career path.  It has taken me in directions I had never dreamed of.  I want to encourage and support young people starting out in this wonderful profession.”

Evan Belyea and Jonathan Knight, the two recipients of the inaugural Lynn Irving Scholarships, appreciate her thoughtful generosity. In Evan’s words “I have always tried to remind myself that although post-secondary schooling is expensive, it is ultimately an investment…I am grateful that someone was willing to invest in me.”

Reflecting on her time at Dalhousie, Lynn offers “it was an honor and a privileged to have been a graduate of the Dalhousie University School of Physiotherapy, I am happy to have the opportunity to support the faculty, staff and students in whatever way that I am able to.”

Lynn acted on her sentiment recently by dropping by the School of Physiotherapy to go for lunch with School Director, Anne Fenety and award recipients Evan and Jonathan.

“Over lunch, Lynn expressed her joy in supporting the students’ studies. The recipients expressed their gratitude.” Anne conveys, “For my part, I learned that Lynn understands that the true value of generosity exceeds the dollar value and that generosity fosters success.“

Lynn Irving--a consistent, generous donor to the School of Physiotherapy— who has, as Anne puts it, ”outdone herself in creating these two scholarships!”
Thank you, Lynn.

Lynn and her husband, Jim, presently reside in Rothesay, NB, have four adult children and are very proud grandparents to four grandchildren.