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Western OT: I can answer any questions you have!


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Hi friends!

Congrats to everyone on their acceptances, you should all be very proud of yourselves!

I attended Western for OT last year for the first semester but due to medical reasons I had to take a LOA, however I am returning in September to be a part of this years incoming class. 

So I'd be happy to help answer any questions anybody has about the program/ living in London, or if you just want to connect with a fellow classmate feel free to shoot me a message! 

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How is the coursework at Western? It seems like others I speak to from other schools say coursework is heavily theoretical and research based versus practice. Is this similar at Western? 

Have you had a chance to enter placements? If so, how are placements determined? What do you enjoy about placements. What can be improved? 

How is the program culture? How does your cohort and faculty get along. How is it organized? 

Any other major highlights or concerns you can share? 

Thank you for your consideration. Take care. 

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Coursework

I have attached below last years schedule for the fall and winter semesters  (however I can't gaurentee it will be the same this year, but it gives you a idea).  Here's a rough rundown of what the courses were like, if you want the syllabuses to look at just message me and I can send them over to you to browse through. 

  • 9580 - This was our fieldwork class, all we covered in the fall semester was basics (NCI training, writing a resume for preceptors, etc.) this runs all year round and I imagine it builds on things you learn on placement after the winter placement
  • 9512 - Foundations of Practice, my personal favourite. We learned MMT & ROM, interviewing skills, patient transfers and more. Very practical hands-on course! Also the instructor is an absolute gem. Got to actually interview patients from the community that had arthritis last year, super cool! 
  • 9695 - SRO, basically the faculty comes up with topics they want to study, you sign on to whatever one piques your interest, and complete a research project in groups with them. This is ongoing throughout the 2yrs
  • 9531 - Conditions, another favourite of mine, super cool instructor who is incredibly knowledgeable, makes the class super interactive. Covered the following (the way I listed it may look funny, but basically we were taught how systems were supposed to function first, and then covered what conditions arise when something is wrong) :
    • Spina Bifida & Myelomenigocele (development of the nervous system)
    • Neuroimaging techniques (CT scans, MRIs, etc., she made a really cool project out of this information)
    • Multiple Scleorosis (cells of the nervous system, action potentials, basics on how info is transmitted)
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Mood disorders (neurochemistry) 
    • ALS, SMA (nerve conduction, neuromuscular junctions)
    • Muscular Dystrophy (skeletal muscle structure & contractions) 
    • Spinal cord injuries (spinal cord motor organization, pathways to the brain) 
    • Tramatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy (Brain structure & organization, cranial nerves, cerebral cortex)
    • Cerebrovascular accidents (blood supply to the brains, CSF)
    • Parkinson's Disease (Basal Ganglia)
    • * side note, this class had a super cool project last year where we got to do a mock trial in an actual courtroom, if you want I can tell you about this too :)
  • Anatomy - Big lecture, taken with PTs, undergrad Kin students and us. Weekly cadaver labs. 
  • 9571 - Professionalism, covers basic ethical problems and basically how you should act in different situations.
  • *9541 - Foundations of Research, not sure if this course will even exist next year as the student body complained about its poor fit with the rest of the courses, it focuses on qualitative and quantitative methodologies and philosophical paradigms (post-positivism, interpretivism, constuctivism, critical theory), also learned how to write a CAP (critical appraisal paper).....(Don't worry if you don't understand what any of this means, I took & passed this course with a good grade and I STILL have no idea what any of it was, lol.)  
  • 9511 - This was our only class for the first couple weeks, completely intro course that covers the theories of practice and how to apply them (MOHO, CMOP-E, TCOP, CPPF, OPPM, etc.) 

*Sorry this is so long, I'll answer each question in subsequent posts so this isn't a giant essay

 

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Facebook Group

In term of a Facebook group, it took a bit last year for one to appear for the incoming class so I created my own to round up people. However, eventually a student council member created one for us and that's where some of our special events got posted.  So ya just be patient there will be one appearing eventually (: its super helpful, students post calendars of when things are due, resources, social events and stuff like that

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Placements

So the first few weeks we had a 2 day placement where we just shadowed, this was pretty random as to where you went. I personally went to St Thomas hospital in an ortho unit and it was fantastic to actually get a feel for what you may end up doing. You end up doing a project on this experience and it brings together the theories learned in 9511 and applies them to practical cases you saw. You have lots of options placement wise for the bigger ones, there's a document posted when the time comes of all the possible options within the catchment area, you pick a list of (I think it was 10) of your top picks, one of them having to be outside of London, and they try to match you with one of your top picks. You also have the option of going out of catchment, I didn't look much into this but there's a meeting that provides info on it long before you have to pick if you're interested. It can be competitive though. Northern placements are also available. You also have the option of going internationally for the summer placement (I think the options were Scotland, India, Australia and South Africa for placements and you can opt to go to Norway in 2nd year for an intensive).

 

Overall I think placement matching is done quite fairly, you have a meeting with the fieldwork coordinator and sort out what areas you would like to experience and he is super helpful and roadmapping with you (so for me, I wanted to go into pediatrics so I was advised to leave that for my very last placement so I may get a job offer, also you are only allowed 1 peds placement during the program so planning is important!). You also have to factor in that you have to cover 1 mental health, 1 community, ect. (sorry I cant find info on the exacts of this right now). I like that there is a lot of options and the fieldwork coordinator is fantastic at helping you plan. 

 

Only complaint I have in terms of placement is that if you want to go somewhere like SickKids in Toronto, you have a very slim chance because those placements almost always go to U of T or Mac students because it's their catchment area, not ours. That being said there are still tons of options in London and you do have the opportunity to apply for these out of catchments, it is just significantly more difficult to get one. Also people were a little weary that you had to have at least one mental health placement as some people aren't comfortable with this population, however I believe it makes you a more well-rounded practioner by having these guidelines. 

 

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Culture

The faculty is honestly fantastic. They were so patient and helpful while I worked through my medical issues. They are always happy to answer questions or even just discuss anything you want to ask them. Most of them were practicing OTs at one point so they bring a lot of their own stories and experiences into lessons. The cool thing I found was that we got to call them by their first name (most of them) and they explained that it was because we are equals. It honestly very different than my experience in undergrad, a lot more casual. Also if you see faculty in the hallway, they always say hello which is nice (: By the end of the first month or two they know all of us by name, which is also nice.

The students are fantastic, we all come from different backgrounds and bring different viewpoints (which is honestly fantastic for class discussions). Lots of kin undergrads, some psych majors, we even had a film major and a physics guy! Mostly around mid 20s, although we had a couple that were quite a bit older. Honestly most are not from the London area, a lot of people from the GTA, Northern Ontario and British Columbia, and a couple from other provinces. I think we had a couple international students too. Again, super helpful for class discussions because we all come from diverse backgrounds. Everyone is super helpful towards eachother, like I said previously some people make to do lists/ due date calendars/ study notes and post it on facebook to be shared with everyone (: It is very close knit and you become more like a family. 

In terms of faculty/student interactions, its very informal and fun. Professors are very approachable and friendly, they laugh and makes jokes, very light hearted. The second years help out with the first years too so the whole program really just seems like one big family. Everyone seems to get along very well. 

We also have interprofessional events where we work on things with the PTs, SLPs and audiology students that we share the building with. In my opinion these are a highlight of the program because when we graduate we will have to learn to work as part of a team with these other professions, so it's nice to start practicing working collaboratively with them now on mock cases. 

Like any program cliques form, but there are a lot of opportunities to get to know all the people in the program. Lots of group work and pair work where you are with people who you may not have got to know yet. The Oweek is also full of events that function as great icebreakers! 

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Highlights

I have highlighted a lot of the good things about the program in previous posts, but just to summarize:

  • Fantastic faculty
  • Family vibe
  • Placement options are seemingly endless
  • The evaluations in courses are very fair, no 'tricks' or surprises on tests
  • The courses are very interactive and hands on 
  • Lots of group work and opportunities to practice being part of a team 
  • The assignments and projects are very creative and fun to do, we did a Powtoon on MRIs, had a mock trial, the interviewing skills evaluation was with a real patient
  • Lots of class discussions

Some of the cons/hiccups in the program (just in my opinion)

  • The research course was the least enjoyable course I've ever experienced. It was very dry and the concepts were too abstract for a lot of us to grasp completely. It just didn't seem like necessary content to know for practice. But again, I think this issue has been resolved. 
  • We are literally in the same room for every course except anatomy for the first semester. It doesnt even have a window. It has a picture of a window though... but hey plus side you always know which room your in
  • Anatomy is a sore spot for a lot of students, its very..... stress provoking
  • Our anatomy lab last year was at 8:30 am, cadavers that early in the morning is not a great way to start the day 
  • There is one lunch room shared between the OTs, PTs, SLPs, and audiology students in Elborn. Its not big either by any means. It's kinda ok because most of our lunch breaks are staggered and you could always go to another building, but thats just a small inconvenience. 
  • I'm not sure if it was just the 1st years classroom or the whole building but the temperature control was nuts. Varied wildly from uncomfortably hot to freezing, so layering was necessary

Pro Tips

  • Don't rely on the London transit system too much, I had buses that didnt show up, came super early, came super late, and that got too full so we had to leave people behind. Its not fantastic. 
  • Get your pre-placement requirements done ASAP, there was a giant mess with the 2 day placement because a whole bunch of people couldn't get their police checks/vaccinations in time 
  • Go to the social events! It's a great way to network and meet people 
  • Brush up on anatomy, it is very fast paced, focus was on muscles (insertion, origin, nerve supply, blood supply)
  • Brush up a bit on neuroanatomy/physiology, depending on your background the conditions course can be a bit intense for some people
  • There are a lot of events that professional wear is needed (not suit and tie per se, but nice slacks and an appropriate dress shirt/collared shirt/business or office wear) so if you don't have those in your wardrobe I would invest in some to bring. 
  •  It would make fieldwork easier if you had a rough resume pre-made so you just have to edit it when the time comes, not write up a whole new document 
  • Invest in a good planner. It can get hectic. 
  • Ask questions, if you're struggling with a concept I can gaurentee somebody else is too, professors are happy to elaborate and explain things and it helps the whole class 

 

***Most importantly: Be yourself! Everyone is super nice, and it is not hard to make friends. We're all in this together (:

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3 minutes ago, Art3mis said:

Highlights

I have highlighted a lot of the good things about the program in previous posts, but just to summarize:

  • Fantastic faculty
  • Family vibe
  • Placement options are seemingly endless
  • The evaluations in courses are very fair, no 'tricks' or surprises on tests
  • The courses are very interactive and hands on 
  • Lots of group work and opportunities to practice being part of a team 
  • The assignments and projects are very creative and fun to do, we did a Powtoon on MRIs, had a mock trial, the interviewing skills evaluation was with a real patient
  • Lots of class discussions

Some of the cons/hiccups in the program (just in my opinion)

  • The research course was the least enjoyable course I've ever experienced. It was very dry and the concepts were too abstract for a lot of us to grasp completely. It just didn't seem like necessary content to know for practice. But again, I think this issue has been resolved. 
  • We are literally in the same room for every course except anatomy for the first semester. It doesnt even have a window. It has a picture of a window though... but hey plus side you always know which room your in
  • Anatomy is a sore spot for a lot of students, its very..... stress provoking
  • Our anatomy lab last year was at 8:30 am, cadavers that early in the morning is not a great way to start the day 
  • There is one lunch room shared between the OTs, PTs, SLPs, and audiology students in Elborn. Its not big either by any means. It's kinda ok because most of our lunch breaks are staggered and you could always go to another building, but thats just a small inconvenience. 
  • I'm not sure if it was just the 1st years classroom or the whole building but the temperature control was nuts. Varied wildly from uncomfortably hot to freezing, so layering was necessary

Pro Tips

  • Don't rely on the London transit system too much, I had buses that didnt show up, came super early, came super late, and that got too full so we had to leave people behind. Its not fantastic. 
  • Get your pre-placement requirements done ASAP, there was a giant mess with the 2 day placement because a whole bunch of people couldn't get their police checks/vaccinations in time 
  • Go to the social events! It's a great way to network and meet people 
  • Brush up on anatomy, it is very fast paced, focus was on muscles (insertion, origin, nerve supply, blood supply)
  • Brush up a bit on neuroanatomy/physiology, depending on your background the conditions course can be a bit intense for some people
  • There are a lot of events that professional wear is needed (not suit and tie per se, but nice slacks and an appropriate dress shirt/collared shirt/business or office wear) so if you don't have those in your wardrobe I would invest in some to bring. 
  •  It would make fieldwork easier if you had a rough resume pre-made so you just have to edit it when the time comes, not write up a whole new document 
  • Invest in a good planner. It can get hectic. 
  • Ask questions, if you're struggling with a concept I can gaurentee somebody else is too, professors are happy to elaborate and explain things and it helps the whole class 

 

***Most importantly: Be yourself! Everyone is super nice, and it is not hard to make friends. We're all in this together (:

This is great! Thank you so much for all the information! 

Just one more question, is there any housing recommendations you would make? I'm not too familiar with the London area so I'm a little nervous about this. 

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My pleasure :)

Housing

I would look for something relatively close to Elborn College, just a quick google maps of how far of a walk it is/ nearby bus routes and when they run. Also 100% recommend actually scouting out and touring a rental before you ever sign a lease. I've seen units that look great online but are awful in person. Also some landlords can be....rude. And that's just added stress you don't need. 

I personally am staying at Platt's lane estates, the whole area is very family and student oriented around there. Quiet at night and only a 10 minute walk. In my experience most of my classmates lived in the Platt's lane/Sarnia Rd area.

I previously lived at a condo on Richmond St. right by Masonville mall. Super quiet area and mostly mature students and elderly retirees, only downside is that it is quite far from Elborn and the buses were unreliable. 

If you're looking for something that comes pre-furnished then Luxe or The W are the only options that come to mind, everything else I've seen is usually bring your own so if that's a factor then there's that. 

I would personally avoid anything near Richmond Row/Downtown as it can get quite loud at night, especially on weekends, but its convenient if you like to go bar hopping!

Just from my own research I would avoid:

  • Medallion corp (they own a bunch of apartment buildings), they are super cheap for a reason as they are apparently not managed well and have pest issues (or so I have read)
  • Timbercreek (they also own a few buildings), I can only speak to the unit I toured but it basically looked like a drug den and there was a mattress in the kitchen, (literally next to the fridge, breakfast in bed eh?). Also I toured it in broad daylight and there were some sketchy looking people hanging around the entrance and it was just super uncomfortable.

Anything by Drewlo holdings is a safe bet, it is a bit pricier but they have beautiful apartments and they have a very good reputation, they have a set of apartment buildings in my hometown and I have friends that live in them, no complains, managed fantastically. However they are further from the school. 

There's also a whole bunch of newly built townhouses in/around Sarnia road, my friend stayed in a 4 bedroom one and it was gorgeous and quiet. 

I would  recommend trying to find a roommate on here that's in our program, that way rent is cheaper AND you have a built in study buddy (:

 

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6 hours ago, Art3mis said:

My pleasure :)

Housing

I would look for something relatively close to Elborn College, just a quick google maps of how far of a walk it is/ nearby bus routes and when they run. Also 100% recommend actually scouting out and touring a rental before you ever sign a lease. I've seen units that look great online but are awful in person. Also some landlords can be....rude. And that's just added stress you don't need. 

I personally am staying at Platt's lane estates, the whole area is very family and student oriented around there. Quiet at night and only a 10 minute walk. In my experience most of my classmates lived in the Platt's lane/Sarnia Rd area.

I previously lived at a condo on Richmond St. right by Masonville mall. Super quiet area and mostly mature students and elderly retirees, only downside is that it is quite far from Elborn and the buses were unreliable. 

If you're looking for something that comes pre-furnished then Luxe or The W are the only options that come to mind, everything else I've seen is usually bring your own so if that's a factor then there's that. 

I would personally avoid anything near Richmond Row/Downtown as it can get quite loud at night, especially on weekends, but its convenient if you like to go bar hopping!

Just from my own research I would avoid:

  • Medallion corp (they own a bunch of apartment buildings), they are super cheap for a reason as they are apparently not managed well and have pest issues (or so I have read)
  • Timbercreek (they also own a few buildings), I can only speak to the unit I toured but it basically looked like a drug den and there was a mattress in the kitchen, (literally next to the fridge, breakfast in bed eh?). Also I toured it in broad daylight and there were some sketchy looking people hanging around the entrance and it was just super uncomfortable.

Anything by Drewlo holdings is a safe bet, it is a bit pricier but they have beautiful apartments and they have a very good reputation, they have a set of apartment buildings in my hometown and I have friends that live in them, no complains, managed fantastically. However they are further from the school. 

There's also a whole bunch of newly built townhouses in/around Sarnia road, my friend stayed in a 4 bedroom one and it was gorgeous and quiet. 

I would  recommend trying to find a roommate on here that's in our program, that way rent is cheaper AND you have a built in study buddy (:

 

Wow that is great info, thanks! I am a B.C. resident who won’t likely be heading out to London until mid-late August, do you recommend securing a place before then or waiting to view apartments until I arrive? 

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Thank you SO much for this! I'm planning to accept my offer to Western - and it helps to have some insight from someone. 

I don't have any anatomy or physiology background, so I'm wondering how I can soften the blow before arriving. Will just have to stay focused and find some other pals in the same boat to study with!

I'm from the Maritimes and won't be in London until the end of August, so your housing recommendations are so helpful. 

Thanks again :)

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@OTMaT 

Safe travels my friend! I would be happy to study with you if you want to connect, I'm also not great at anatomy but I've taken it in my Kin undergrad so I know a bit, neurophysiology on the other hand I am fantastic at so if you need help in conditions I'm your girl aha. 

 

I'm glad this is helpful for people! Again its just all my personal opinions and observations but I hope they serve as a good rough guide :)

 

For anatomy review there are tons of resources online (: here's a few: 

 

 

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@BCtoOT

That's a tough one, ideally I would say you should see them in person but I definitely don't recommend waiting until August to secure a place. By then it might be slim picking per se and all of the good places/close places/ reasonably priced places will already have been spoken for.

However, there is always the option of asking for a Skype tour! 

The other option is finding a roommate you trust and trusting their opinion (i.e. someone in the program or someone in any of the rehab sciences) 

Save travels :) I look forward to meeting everyone and wish you luck finding somewhere!

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@Elle_

London

*disclaimer: I'm from a super small rural town of only a couple hundred people, so my opinion is coming from the perspective of a country kid. But I also only live about an hour from London and I've been there a lot

  • It's only a mid-sized city, so I find it a lot less overwhelming than somewhere like Toronto and a lot quieter 
  • Housing prices are apparently fair, but in comparison to what people pay in the Tricities/KW region I find it expensive 
    • the further away you are from the school the cheaper it is though
  • It is somehow constantly under construction and it really messes up the public transport system (LTC) 
  • The LTC sucks as I've said in previous posts, it was really disappointing in my experience but some of my classmates had no problems, it may just depend on the bus routes how consistent the service is 
  • The bar scene is fantastic if you're into that, there's lots of bars on richmond row that are all different styles
  • Lots of shopping, there is 2 big malls (White Oaks and Masonville, Masonville being the closest to the school) and lots of grocery stores etc. 
  • Its called the Forest city for a reason! Its super beautiful and there's tons of parks and green spaces, and ya a lot of trees lol. Lots of bike/walking paths too!
  • Traffic in and around campus can be absolutely horrendous in the peak commuting hours (not good for driving or the buses) but I think that just normal for universities 
  • Crime wise not a lot happens that I've ever heard of, the normal petty crimes like cars getting broken into and there's some areas downtown I wouldn't recommend walking by yourself at night in, but the area around the campus is fairly safe
  • Lots of fantastic restaurants! All different kinds of cuisine from all around the world too! 
  • There's not a lot of parking in the city, and if there is any its expensive
  • Budweiser Gardens is great for entertainment/concerts, lots of big names come there
  • There's tons of farmer's markets if you're into that
  • Lots of potential future employers for us
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

This was so helpful! Especially the info/review on classes. Considering that almost everything will be online this Fall, I am weighing the pros and cons of not moving to London just yet (from BC so it would be a far move and financially smarter) if not necessary. Does anyone have any insight or opinions or maybe they are considering it as well? The website says first-year incoming are only needed to be on campus from December 2nd- 20th this year for labs (subject to changes possibly of course) and that there is plans for online orientation as well. I guess I am just a bit apprehensive of moving and then not really meeting people in the program outside of the online stuff. Would really welcome any comments or advice!:)

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1 hour ago, Sky05 said:

This was so helpful! Especially the info/review on classes. Considering that almost everything will be online this Fall, I am weighing the pros and cons of not moving to London just yet (from BC so it would be a far move and financially smarter) if not necessary. Does anyone have any insight or opinions or maybe they are considering it as well? The website says first-year incoming are only needed to be on campus from December 2nd- 20th this year for labs (subject to changes possibly of course) and that there is plans for online orientation as well. I guess I am just a bit apprehensive of moving and then not really meeting people in the program outside of the online stuff. Would really welcome any comments or advice!:)

I am from NS and am moving in September! I mostly just want to get settled and into a routine ASAP versus having to move across provinces in the middle of classes. I also don’t really want to be driving that far in the winter either in case of a snowstorm. Plus I think I will get more school work done when I have my own space. :) 

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