What motivates U of T Recent Physical Therapy Grads to offer internships to students?

U of T Recent Physical Therapy Grads help develop the next generation through clinical internships and
are embracing having students on internships. U of T Recent Physical Therapy Grads find offering clinical internships is mutually beneficial.

When University of Toronto MScPT graduates think back on their experiences as a student, often it is their internships that produce the most vivid memories. For our recent graduates these memories are inspiring them to give back to the current students by offering clinical internships to the next generation of future physical therapists

Oscar Chan graduated in 2016 and works at CBI Health Group in Markham. He will be hosting his first student in April. He shares why he decided to be involved:

“I felt the greatest highlights of my physiotherapy education was through clinical placements and working with patients and other physiotherapists. The dedication and commitment from my previous clinical instructors inspired me to follow their lead to become an instructor myself. I’m confident that having a student will challenge my own clinical reasoning and promote bidirectional learning”

Winta Desta, also graduated in 2016 and has already hosted a student on internship at NeuroActive Physiotherapy and offers exposure sessions at Alpha Health Services. She recalls the impact that internships had in her career development. She also outlines what recent graduates have to offer as clinical instructors.

“My experiences throughout internships at UofT definitely helped shaped my current career. This will be the same for our future colleagues currently in PT school. As a new PT taking on students was daunting but I was able to remember exactly what information the students were learning and was able to challenge them appropriately. Yes, as newer PTs we do not have the same amount of knowledge as our more experienced colleagues do, but do not underestimate what you do know! Your skills, knowledge, and personality can definitely help define future students’ clinical education experiences.”

Will McIsaac, a 2015 graduate explains how recent grads can support student learning as clinical instructors. He has already had several students at Melrose Physiotherapy – pt Health.

“My first experience as a clinical instructor was in the spring of 2016. I was initially hesitant due to my lack of experience. However, I soon realized that as recent grads we have a lot to offer, particularly when it comes to navigating the transition from the classroom to the clinic. Having been through the program at U of T, we are familiar with the student experience and can use it to guide our clinical mentorship. I think students appreciate that perspective. I’ve also found it beneficial to my own practice. After a few years out, I’ve found that I can fall into certain habits in my clinical practice; having a student forces me to question those habits and take a fresh perspective. This spring, I’ll be taking my 5th student for a five week clinical internship and I look forward to continuing as a clinical instructor in the future”

These inspiring recent graduates recognize the many benefits that having a student can provide to them. A 2015 graduate, Carina Orschel works at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare – part of the Sinai Health System. She was a clinical instructor with her first student in the fall and found the experience so rewarding, she is planning to host additional students in the coming year. She highlights the benefits of working with a student:

“Taking on students has been extremely rewarding for me. Not only does it make me feel happy to be giving back to the PT profession that I love, but it’s also a great reminder of basic PT skills and knowledge. Having a student helps me review and solidify my own PT knowledge as I attempt to explain concepts to the students. They actually teach me with their different perspectives and creative treatment ideas. I think taking on a student is a great opportunity to strengthen your leadership, mentoring, and communication skills. It also helps build my reflective practice as I work to reflect on the student’s strengths and weaknesses as well as my own as a clinical instructor.”

Stephanie Bognar (2015 graduate) works at The Clinic and will host her first student on internship in April, 2018. She feels that students can improve her own practice as well as benefitting the clinics and organizations that physiotherapists work for:

“As a new grad I wanted to be involved in clinical education eventually – I had some great mentors myself and wanted to pay it forward. Fast-forward to 2018 and I realized a more selfish reason for getting involved: we graduated 2.5 years ago – over 50% of the information we worked so hard to learn is officially irrelevant. I don’t know if anyone ever feels completely ready to take a student, but my other teaching experiences so far have been great to continue my professional development without altering my schedule, and to stay up to date (for free!). Maybe more importantly, it’s been rewarding and surprisingly fun! Approaching my boss about it was easier than expected – my caseload and schedule aren’t affected, it’s a form of marketing and involves our clinic in the community, and having an extra pair of hands around is always helpful!”

Stephanie Bognar of the Clinic teaches first year student Samuel Morrison how to assess a knee at a 4-hour clinical exposure. These clinical exposures are an opportunity for the first year students to have early exposure to the clinical environment to assist them in integrating class materials and prepare them for their full time clinical internships.


Carina also talks of how recent graduates can become involved even if they are working part time in multiple settings:

“From my own experience, sometimes it’s hard for us (as fairly new grads) to take on students since we often have casual/part time/contract work that makes it difficult to commit to taking on a student. I know it took me a while to be in one position long enough to feel comfortable enough with the workload/team/flow to then add on a student on top of that. Perhaps it may help to reinforce that sharing a student is a possibility”

The viewpoints from these insightful recent graduates are right in line with the literature. Students keep your knowledge up to date and it is a form of continuing professional development. It is also a part of our professional roles and responsibilities (Hall, 2015). In fact, contributing to clinical education is part of the recently updated Essential Competencies for Physiotherapists in Canada (2017). We are proud of our graduates and grateful for their continued involvement in the Department of PT.

If you are interested in hosting a Physical Therapy student in your practice – we would love to discuss the opportunities for upcoming internships. Please contact Jaimie Coleman, Director of clinical Education Jaimie.coleman@utoronto.ca