Australia is world-renowned for its leading-edge physiotherapy research and practice, and Canadians enjoy learning from Australian academics who are world leaders in the physiotherapy field, including former OzTREKK student Andrea Luk.
Andrea has recently completed the Doctor of Physiotherapy at Macquarie University and has offered to pass on what she has learned and experience as a Canadian studying in Australia!
Read Part 1 of her story!
What were your likes and dislikes about the program and the university? Do you feel prepared?
I really enjoyed the smaller cohort size and close connections with the lecturers in the physiotherapy program as it made it very easy to really know one another and to make friends. And of course there were the other international students in the course whom I quickly had a common bond with.
At Macquarie, you really get the full experience from participating in various events from educational ones to stress-relieving ones. There were seminars and workshops set up by the physiotherapy department (e.g., Kinesiotaping workshops taught by guest lecturers), events run by our own Mcphys Society (e.g., BBQs, birthday drinks at Ubar, World Physiotherapy Day events), campus-wide events (e.g., Open Day, Conception Day), and participation in club sport teams. I was part of the McPhys touch football team (touch footy as they call it in Australia), which further allowed me to bond with my classmates while I learned a completely new sport! In addition, with our own McPhys Society Facebook group, it allowed the entire cohort to frequently communicate (or sometimes vent), socialize, give support, and to really unite together as a group.
Andrea and koala friend
I thought the classes were structured quite well. Every lecture was accompanied by a tutorial. Tutorials were very interactive and hands-on, which allowed for plenty of practice as well as one-on-one guidance from the tutors. The clinical placements were excellent and allowed me to gain exposure in various settings. I had placements in an acute hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, in primary care, in sports physiotherapy, and in occupational rehabilitation. I truly enjoyed the placements as I had plenty of hands-on practice and got to experience handling patient caseloads on my own. In addition, the clinical experiences really prepared me for being a practicing physiotherapist by allowing me to work in multidisciplinary teams and to participate in interprofessional collaboration for treatment of clients.
I liked the business and research components that were included in the program. From the business and management unit I learned to develop a business plan, which I thought was quite helpful as I intend to start my own physiotherapy practice in the future. It also gave me some insight into business law which would, again, come in handy for the future. During clinical placement, I was mindful of what I had learned in the business unit; however, the content was not utilized as much due to the set-up for clinical placements mainly allowed for development of physiotherapy skills and not so much business-related skills.
The research and thesis component in the program gave us a glimpse of what research was like; however, with only one term to complete it, many of us felt it was too short of a time to conduct an entire research and thesis writing. However, like a few other areas of the program, the coordinators have used our feedback as the first cohort, and have been very diligent in making improvements every step of the way.
What do students need to do in order to practice in Canada?
Before returning to Canada to work, you will need to apply for credentialing and licensing through the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. They require documentations from you and from the physiotherapy program at the university. Macquarie is not particularly familiar with this process, so it is up to you to follow the instructions on the Canadian Alliance website and to bring the forms to the physiotherapy program manager to complete.
The credentialing process takes about 6–18 months and includes written and practical exams. As part of the credentialing requirements, you will also have to complete a course that is dedicated for internationally educated physiotherapists to learn about physiotherapy in the Canadian healthcare system, which is offered by various Canadian universities either online or at the university. After that process is completed, you will have to register with the province you intend to work in through the individual colleges of physiotherapists in each province.
Any tips for future students?
Some tips for accommodation—I think it is a good idea to find a place where a few of you could split the rent of the apartment together, as housing is not cheap. One suggestion is to get in touch with OzTREKK and ask them for the list of other Canadian students who will also study at Macquarie. Then start looking for a place before you leave Canada. There are townhouses or apartments for groups that are nearby the campus. If you want to inspect the apartments first and need to stay somewhere temporarily, you may want to use the Airbnb website to look for temporary housing that is much cheaper than the hotels nearby. You may also receive information for accommodation on campus, such as the Macquarie University Village. From my experience the Village housing can get quite loud, and internet charges are not included in your rent, which was quite expensive as it was pay by usage. Since the Macquarie University train station is right by the campus, for those of you who do not mind travelling 10–15 minutes, there are other suburbs with great accommodation options that are along the train line, such as Chatswood, Artarmon, or St Leonards.
In regard to transportation, as I mentioned, it is quite convenient to travel to and from campus, especially with a train station on campus. There is also a bus loop; however, buses aren’t as reliable in Sydney as they often don’t arrive on time due to heavy traffic on all the roads practically all the time. If you are deciding to buy a car there, again be aware of the traffic. The public transit now utilizes Opal cards to tap on and off when travelling on trains, buses and ferries. For international students, we do not receive concession prices, but are required to buy the adult cards. There are perks with using the Opal cards, such as after travelling 8 trips in a week, all other trips are free for the rest of the week. There are also discounted rates during off-peak hours on a daily basis.
A big thank you to Andrea for answering our questions and being part of our OzTREKK blog!
Macquarie University Doctor of Physiotherapy
The Doctor of Physiotherapy at Macquarie is the only three-year, professional-entry physiotherapy program offered in New South Wales.
Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Duration: 3 years
Next available intake: July 2016
Application deadline: Applications are assessed on a rolling admissions basis. The sooner you apply the better!