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Question for Current OT Students/Grads- Deciding between Ontario OT Schools

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Hi! 

I have created this thread as I am deciding between UofT, Queens, and McMaster for OT (and I am sure others are as well). I was wondering if any current OT students or graduates would be able to answer some of the questions I had or just share some of their experiences at these schools.

So far from my own research I gathered the following:

UofT seems to have more of a research focus, with a couple of the courses being research-based (e.g. learning methodologies, how to write a proposal). They also have LEAP placements where one can be placed where there is no OT present or OT role.

Queens seems to have a mental health and communication focus (one mandatory placement in mental health). It also seems their program is shorter than the others (it can potentially end in June depending on when we schedule our last placement), and has 4 terms of classes rather than 5 like the other schools. I think they also say not to expect all fieldwork to take place in Kingston? 

McMaster- I don't know a lot about them other than problem based learning- which I am still trying to wrap my head around what that is, would appreciate if someone could explain PBL to me! 

Please correct me if I am wrong with any of the above info and I would appreciate if current students or grads could share their experiences.

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Hi there! 

Congrats on your acceptances! I'm a current Year 2 OT student at McMaster and have really enjoyed my experiences at Mac! You're correct, we do follow a PBL style of learning, though this mostly applies to our Problem Based Tutorials that are an integral part of each of our five academic terms. You are placed in a group with 5-6 other students as well as a tutor, who is either a community clinician or a member of faculty. Together as a group (with the tutor available for assistance), you work through a variety of case problems that align with the material that is being covered in the term. PBT groups meet 2x/week in Year 1 and 1x/week in Year 2. Every session you leave with learning goals and things you need to research and come back ready to contribute to the group. Personally, I really like this style of learning, as it allows you research areas that are of particular interest to you, but also work to fill your own gaps in knowledge depending on the case. I think having to engage that way in a small group helps me work on my communication, research and time management skills. It can be stressful at times to balance the demands of the program with the responsibilities of bringing back good research to the group, but honestly, I can't imagine having gone through OT school without PBT at this point! 

Also, McMaster also requires each student to complete at least one placement in mental health so that's something to keep in mind.

Hope that was helpful!

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16 minutes ago, OTOT2020 said:

Hi there! 

Congrats on your acceptances! I'm a current Year 2 OT student at McMaster and have really enjoyed my experiences at Mac! You're correct, we do follow a PBL style of learning, though this mostly applies to our Problem Based Tutorials that are an integral part of each of our five academic terms. You are placed in a group with 5-6 other students as well as a tutor, who is either a community clinician or a member of faculty. Together as a group (with the tutor available for assistance), you work through a variety of case problems that align with the material that is being covered in the term. PBT groups meet 2x/week in Year 1 and 1x/week in Year 2. Every session you leave with learning goals and things you need to research and come back ready to contribute to the group. Personally, I really like this style of learning, as it allows you research areas that are of particular interest to you, but also work to fill your own gaps in knowledge depending on the case. I think having to engage that way in a small group helps me work on my communication, research and time management skills. It can be stressful at times to balance the demands of the program with the responsibilities of bringing back good research to the group, but honestly, I can't imagine having gone through OT school without PBT at this point! 

Also, McMaster also requires each student to complete at least one placement in mental health so that's something to keep in mind.

Hope that was helpful!

Thank you!!! They also say that their program uses self directed learning, could you speak to where that is used? 

In addition, I noticed that Mac's program only has 3 courses per term and the names repeat themselves (Foundational Knowledge, Inquiry & Integration, Professional Reasoning & Skills- and in year 2 Evidence based practice). The other schools have 6-7 courses a term. I am curious to know what these 3 courses consist of, as I'm sure the workload has to be equal to the other OT schools that have 6-7 courses. I looked up the course descriptions but they were vague.

Can I PM you for more specific questions as well?

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3 hours ago, OT1996 said:

Thank you!!! They also say that their program uses self directed learning, could you speak to where that is used? 

In addition, I noticed that Mac's program only has 3 courses per term and the names repeat themselves (Foundational Knowledge, Inquiry & Integration, Professional Reasoning & Skills- and in year 2 Evidence based practice). The other schools have 6-7 courses a term. I am curious to know what these 3 courses consist of, as I'm sure the workload has to be equal to the other OT schools that have 6-7 courses. I looked up the course descriptions but they were vague.

Can I PM you for more specific questions as well?

Self-directed learning is another part of the program for sure. There is the understanding that we are adult learners at this point and that we need to take ownership of our education. You are expected to be proactive about identifying your learning gaps and seeking out resources to support your learning. That being said, I have found the faculty to be incredibly supportive and they are always available to help. Also, this is where your peers become super helpful! I have found that students in the program are always open to sharing resources and information (not only within our class, but with previous and future classes as well!)

You are correct, there are three broadly titled courses that actually span across most of the program. The topics changes throughout the terms, but the overarching goals/approach of the courses remain consistent throughout the program.

Foundational Knowledge covers many diverse areas that aim to provide all students with a baseline understanding of anatomy, social sciences, statistics and research methods. Since the OT program doesn't have any pre-requisite courses, the FK course is there to help get everyone on a more even playing field. During the first semester, this course is divided into two 3 hour sessions/week. The first session is spent in the anatomy lab where we have the opportunity to learn on specimens and work in small groups. The second session is spent in the classroom and covers statistics, research methods, sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Inquiry & Integration is where we learn about OT theories and models of practice. This is taught in a more traditional lecture format and is one 3 hour session/week. I&I is also home to the PBT component of the program. Professional Reasoning and Skills allows you to develop and learn practical skills that you will use on placement. First term is primarily focused on developing communication skills, interview strategies, and documentation abilities, but it moves into assessment and intervention as you continue through the program. It’s a really fun class that allows you to work with your peers and develop skills that you’ll need on placement. This is delivered in two 3 hour sessions/week. The Evidence-Based Practice courses replaces FK in Year 2 and this is where we further our research skills and complete the Year 2 research project.

Feel free to PM me with any more specific questions that you may have!

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I remember seeing a couple of U of T OT students posted on one of the threads a while ago but can't find the post. I'm trying to decide between U of T and U of A and would love to hear some perspectives on the U of T program (St. Georges Campus). In addition to the program quality, a big concern of mine is the cost of living in Toronto. What was it like to find housing, and were there many scholarships/bursaries available?

Bonus if any OOP can comment on placements at U of T outside of Ontario (Western Canada). 

Thanks in advance!

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14 hours ago, OT1996 said:

@OTOT2020 How many OSCE's did you have to do throughout the entire program?

I dont believe OTs have the same number of OSCEs as in the PT program. I am in PT at Mac but have friends in OT and it doesn't seem like its the same practical testing in the sense of an "OSCE" where its 12-14 stations in the PT program. I do believe they have some form of clinical testing but can't comment to its full extent. It would be less compared to the 10 in the PT program, keep in mind OT's don't need to do a practical exam after graduating in Canada. * this info is second hand so don't quote me on this and if someone has more info knowledge by all means share it!

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19 hours ago, Sarah31 said:

I remember seeing a couple of U of T OT students posted on one of the threads a while ago but can't find the post. I'm trying to decide between U of T and U of A and would love to hear some perspectives on the U of T program (St. Georges Campus). In addition to the program quality, a big concern of mine is the cost of living in Toronto. What was it like to find housing, and were there many scholarships/bursaries available?

Bonus if any OOP can comment on placements at U of T outside of Ontario (Western Canada). 

Thanks in advance!

Hey! im also in the same boat as well and trying to decide between U of T and U of A!! :)

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1 hour ago, OTPLEASE2382 said:

Hey! im also in the same boat as well and trying to decide between U of T and U of A!! :)

Are you from Alberta? Have you come up with any pros/cons for each school? My biggest concern is just cost of Toronto :( 

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12 minutes ago, Sarah31 said:

Are you from Alberta? Have you come up with any pros/cons for each school? My biggest concern is just cost of Toronto :( 

Hey! I'm also wondering how UofA compares to the Ontario schools? I've been accepted to UofA, Western, and Queens, and having a tough time determining which school has the best program! Does anyone have any insight on this? 

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I was wondering if any current students can comment on the course load in OT programs. I have only ever taken max 4 courses a semester in undergrad. There was one semester that I took 5 and found it really tough (also because I was trying to get high grades not just pass). I am trying to wrap my head around managing 6-7 courses a semester. Do some classes not have assessments or aren't as heavy? Can someone provide insight. Thanks!

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Hi Everyone, 

I got accepted into Queen's, Western and UTM this year and I am having a hard time making a decision between the three schools. Right now I'm leaning towards Queen's or Western since the video-conferencing lecture method of UTM doesn't sound super appealing to me. Is anyone else in the same boat of deciding between Queen's and Western and what sort of factors are you considering? 

I've talked to people in both programs and these are the major pros and cons I've heard for each: 

Queens: 

Pros:

  • VERY hands on teaching method and lots of involvement with volunteers from the community who come in and practice with you (i.e you practice interviewing them, listening to their lived experience, conducting home assessments, etc) 
  • Huge catchment area and 3 hospitals in Kingston for placements 
  • Learning groups - in the same group of around 7 students for all of first year and then a different group second year. the person I talked to raved about this as you get so close with your group

Cons: 

  • apparently the research opportunities can vary greatly (some were for 2 months whereas other projects lasted the duration of the program, not all students had the opportunity to get published or present at CAOT conference) - not sure if this would be the same across all programs 
  • the fourth placement is a community development project and is less clinical than the other three placements - this could also be a pro since its a good experience 

Western 

Pros: 

  • also has a large catchment area and lots of international opportunities for placements 
  • Intensives sound like a really awesome opportunity to study an area of OT more in-depth 
  • There are 4 clinical placements and then a community development project as well (this project sounds like its basically gathering resources for an organization) 
  • The mentorship class that lasts all program sounds really helpful and valuable 

Cons: 

  • they apparently removed the cadaver lab (not sure if it's coming back this year or not) so that could be a pro or a con depending on how much you like anatomy/how valuable you find this lab 
  • Program is more research and theory based and less hands-on 

 

London and Kingston both sound like great places to live and the school community at both sounds really supportive and family-like. If you guys have any other insights into these programs please let me know! Also correct me if any of these are wrong, this is just what I've heard from previous students. 

Additionally, if anyone has any knowledge on the UofT Mississauga campus/program, let me know :)

hope this helps! 

 

 

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7 hours ago, OT18 said:

Hi Everyone, 

I got accepted into Queen's, Western and UTM this year and I am having a hard time making a decision between the three schools. Right now I'm leaning towards Queen's or Western since the video-conferencing lecture method of UTM doesn't sound super appealing to me. Is anyone else in the same boat of deciding between Queen's and Western and what sort of factors are you considering? 

I've talked to people in both programs and these are the major pros and cons I've heard for each: 

Queens: 

Pros:

  • VERY hands on teaching method and lots of involvement with volunteers from the community who come in and practice with you (i.e you practice interviewing them, listening to their lived experience, conducting home assessments, etc) 
  • Huge catchment area and 3 hospitals in Kingston for placements 
  • Learning groups - in the same group of around 7 students for all of first year and then a different group second year. the person I talked to raved about this as you get so close with your group

Cons: 

  • apparently the research opportunities can vary greatly (some were for 2 months whereas other projects lasted the duration of the program, not all students had the opportunity to get published or present at CAOT conference) - not sure if this would be the same across all programs 
  • the fourth placement is a community development project and is less clinical than the other three placements - this could also be a pro since its a good experience 

Western 

Pros: 

  • also has a large catchment area and lots of international opportunities for placements 
  • Intensives sound like a really awesome opportunity to study an area of OT more in-depth 
  • There are 4 clinical placements and then a community development project as well (this project sounds like its basically gathering resources for an organization) 
  • The mentorship class that lasts all program sounds really helpful and valuable 

Cons: 

  • they apparently removed the cadaver lab (not sure if it's coming back this year or not) so that could be a pro or a con depending on how much you like anatomy/how valuable you find this lab 
  • Program is more research and theory based and less hands-on 

 

London and Kingston both sound like great places to live and the school community at both sounds really supportive and family-like. If you guys have any other insights into these programs please let me know! Also correct me if any of these are wrong, this is just what I've heard from previous students. 

Additionally, if anyone has any knowledge on the UofT Mississauga campus/program, let me know :)

hope this helps! 

 

 

Hey UofT also has the small group learning where you are given a group and work with them.

The person I talked to from UofT (St George) gave me the following pros- cool fieldwork opportunities, cool specialities, the faculty are well known, the research and connections are really good, study groups. Also personally one thing I find interesting is the technology course.

Cons- there is some "fluffy" material and complains from students that there's not enough practical stuff (but personally kind of a pro for me as I'm into theory and research). Also I think I saw posts on here that complained about lack of cohesion between St. George and UTM. Another possible con I was thinking of was larger class size and less of a community feel but she said she still got to know students from her class and people did have their cliques 

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Hi everyone, 

Congrats on your acceptances! I am currently deciding between Western and UofT (St. George) for OT. Both are great programs, but wondering if anyone in the same boat can comment on which school they are picking and why? Alternatively, what factors are people considering when deciding which school to pick? 

Thanks!

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3 hours ago, PT OT HOPEFUL said:

Hey guys, I am just wondering if anyone knows if Mac OT students wear scrubs while on placements? 

Current Mac Student OT. On placement we wear the attire our placement site requires and this can vary. However, for my hospital based placements scrubs were not worn and we dressed business casual (no jeans or leggings, wore pants with some degree of stretch that allowed for transferring patients, bending and crouching comfortably and a shirt that was semi-professional but still allowed for movement). Message if you have any questions. 

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On 6/6/2020 at 5:22 PM, optimisticOT2019 said:

Current Mac Student OT. On placement we wear the attire our placement site requires and this can vary. However, for my hospital based placements scrubs were not worn and we dressed business casual (no jeans or leggings, wore pants with some degree of stretch that allowed for transferring patients, bending and crouching comfortably and a shirt that was semi-professional but still allowed for movement). Message if you have any questions. 

Hi there, I was wondering if McMaster OT have cadaver anatomy labs? I believe some schools do offer this/have in the past. Thank you!

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Hi all,

I'm still very much on the fence about OT schools and still deciding between UofT, mac, and queens. I wanted to choose the program that will set me up for success and ease me into the clinical stuff. I've looked into the courses but really they all teach the same stuff. Also UofT and queens do still implement case studies everywhere in their curriculum so I don't see how it really becomes different than problem based learning.

Only things I found different were

- McMaster does the first placement very early (which makes me a bit nervous)

- UofT does musculoskeletal and neuro in the same semester together whereas mac and queens separate it, so I'm thinking that would be challenging. 

- Queens seems to have a way heavier course load (6-7 courses)

Can someone help! What made you guys make your decisions

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I have a question for placements, McMaster has a rather large catchment area and I was wondering about how difficult it would be to commute to placements that are out of Hamilton. Can anyone speak on this. Im hoping to find a place in November in Hamilton, and am worried about the possibility of having a placement in another city. 

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Going off of @OTH0PEFUL97, when do we find out about placements/where we are placed? Do we get much notice prior to the start date? I am potentially thinking of commuting for the first 2 weeks of November for class, doing the placement, then moving in for January 2021. However, I'm nervous that November and January rentals will be difficult to obtain, and maybe September move in is the most realistic???

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On 6/10/2020 at 2:23 PM, OTH0PEFUL97 said:

I have a question for placements, McMaster has a rather large catchment area and I was wondering about how difficult it would be to commute to placements that are out of Hamilton. Can anyone speak on this. Im hoping to find a place in November in Hamilton, and am worried about the possibility of having a placement in another city. 

As the catchment area is large it could potentially be a far commute if u drive and sometimes not possible to commute via public transit (placements can take place in areas such as Barrie, Brantford, Oakville, Orangeville, Guelph ect.). For this reason some students do need to rent a place temporarily in the area of their placement also some placements might require you to have a car therefore being prepared financially if this does happen is important. @PTorOT? You find out the location for your first placement around the first/second week of October. You do have a few days once the placement list is posted to switch with classmates. For in catchment for the first placement the allocation is randomized  For following placements you can rank your top 10 however no guarantee you will get one of your top ten. 

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