Leah Walkeden – BKin
I completed my practicum at the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary. It is a physiotherapy clinic that is heavily involved in research within the field of running injuries, and focuses many of its research projects around the biomechanics of people running. Many of the new patient assessments in the clinic begin with a biomechanical assessment of the patient running on the treadmill, and from the assessment, the physiotherapist can see where the patient has weaknesses and if their running biomechanics are contributing to their injury. My role for my practicum was to be in charge of the biomechanincal assessment. The physiotherapist and I would take the patients injury history, I would place all the markers on the patient, and we would have them run on a treadmill as we analyzed their gate through both computerized software and with our own eye. From the analysis we were able to tell the particular way they were running was the cause of their injury that brought them into the clinic.
The most beneficial part of the practicum was that it was based exactly on my interest of study. My major is biomechanics, and I was doing biomechanical analysis every day, and was constantly introduced to new techniques and ideas around biomechanics and was exposed to many things I never would have been exposed to in a different environment. I was able to learn techniques from one of the best biomechanics clinicians in the world and work side by side her every day for four months. I have gained knowledge that is unparalleled elsewhere.
My only advice to future students is to not settle on a practicum placement. This opportunity is one you won't get at all institutions or in all faculties. You get to spend four months living in a real world career setting where you are allowed to explore the field and be creative and learn so much more than a classroom can teach you, and you can't get fired if you screw up. If you don't see a practicum offered on the list of placements that exactly matches your career aspirations, take the time to talk to people, make connections, and look around to see if someone will host your practicum. I have a unique major that had no practicums offered related to my field, so I talked to profs and physio clinics around the U of A and they eventually lead to the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary. I couldn't have been happier. Use this opportunity to grow yourself outside of being a student. Follow your career aspirations and take this great opportunity to see if the field is right for you, and if this is where you could see yourself working. Don't see the placement as a burden to your studies and as a waste of your time, find somewhere that will make it worth your time.