Rich and valuable: My experience as a mentor in the AIEPB program
By Christine Ramsay, Physical Therapist, Lacombe, Alberta
I admit I was reluctant at first to consider taking an internationally educated physiotherapy student for the year.
I was already feeling overwhelmed as our department was very short-staffed. We were already flying by the seat of our pants and I didn't feel I could offer a valuable placement. Michelle Barnes diplomatically convinced me that the workload would be minimal. Being a UK trained physio myself, I felt somewhat obliged to help.
The time commitment involved one full day every two weeks from mid May 2013 to mid-March 2014, with clinical breaks during the times they had breaks from the course. The days the student came was negotiable between myself and the student and we were both flexible if this had to be changed to accommodate our circumstances. My student, Marjorie, had full-time work commitments as well as her studies. As I remained short-staffed for the full year, I was involved with the student and I was relieved to find that the workload was indeed minimal and very manageable
Throughout the year Marjorie and I became increasingly aware of the value of communication through clear, concise patient instructions to expedite a clinical examination. Overcoming cultural differences and the skill of clinical reasoning are factors we identified that these therapists may require assistance with. This program allows these therapists the opportunity to practice not only their clinical skills but their language skills, particularly for therapists when English is not their first language.
At the end of the year I was given the opportunity to take part in the students’ OSCE exams as a clinical examiner. This was an excellent opportunity for me to bridge the gap between academia and life as a clinician, as I often feel there is a growing disconnect between the two. It provided an insight into the clinical standard that is expected of the students, a learning experience for myself. Delicious snacks and lunch were provided too!
Overall, I highly recommend the mentorship program, not just for the benefit of the student, but for the mentor as well. The experience was rich and valuable and I’m thankful I said yes!