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Hello!

I'm in my first year in the OT program and I can share a little about my experience. 

 

I think my favourite thing about the program is my classmates! I don't know if it's because you have to go through the MMI, but I've found we have a really great group of supportive and collaborative people.

 

Of course Mac is known for the problem-based learning and self-directed learning approaches and I'm sure you're wondering about those a little. In first year, we have "Problem-based tutorial" two times a week. We meet with a small group of students and a tutor (faculty or community clinicians) and work our way through clinical scenarios. 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. I think having to engage that way in a small group helps me work on my communication, research and time management skills. It is a tricky adjustment at first because nobody knows what they are doing in terms of how it's supposed to go, but you get there eventually. I think it's an especially rough go for people who have just come out of their undergrad and are used to having really clear expectations and knowing what they are supposed to be doing. An advantage of PBT is that you have choice in where you direct your learning: maybe it's something about the case that really interests you, or something you know you are weak in... There's that idea that you have obligations to the group (to bring back information that will help everyone move forward) but also to yourself (to work on your areas of weakness). Then there's the reality that you only have so much time in a week and school is so busy. I think it can be hard to live these PBT ideals all the time... but that could be said of any teaching approach to a certain extent. At this point, I can't really imagine OT school without PBT. As much as it can stress me out, I know it's where some of my best learning happens. 

 

Self-directed learning is another theme in the program. This is the philosophy that we are adult learners at this point and 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. I really appreciate the fact we are all expected to be mature and responsible because I think it sets a good tone of professionalism in the program. That being said, being self-directed is not always easy and it can start to wear on you when you're feeling overloaded. Don't get me wrong, the faculty is there to support you, but in a program that is already really condensed I've had moments feeling like I'm wasting precious time trying to figure out things myself. So it's kind of an "eat your greens" situation. It's probably good for me to develop this resourcefulness in the long run, but it doesn't mean it's always a walk in the park! That's where your amazing classmates come in - honestly everyone is so helpful and open to sharing their resources and strategies. 

 

Something that's important to consider about Mac is that the catchment area is quite large and you may need a car at some point. This is something the program really stresses and they assume you will have this taken care of if the need arises. You may only have your placement confirmed a few weeks ahead of time so it's important to have thought about how you would handle this. 

 

What else can I say... We have a lot of great community clinicians come in an help with lectures, which I've enjoyed. There is the option to do a placement up in Northern Ontario, which is a unique experience and one I highly recommend. Mac grads tend to have a strong reputation in the community and I'll be proud to say I graduated from the program. We have almost all our classes in the building the MMIs are in, but the campus is quite beautiful and lovely to walk around on a nice day. I had never lived in Hamilton, but I'm really enjoying it! 

 

I don't know whether you are deciding between different programs, but I really do believe in thinking about where you want to work after graduation. You will be making connections in that community and if you'll be staying in the area it's a huge bonus. You can apply to do placements "out of catchment", but these aren't guaranteed and placements in Toronto and BC can be hard to come by. 

 

Anyway - I should probably leave it there! Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with OT programs in Canada. Be honest with yourself about your learning style and needs and think about what the best fit would be. Anywhere you go the program is intense and you want to give yourself the best chance at succeeding. If you're having trouble wrapping your head around that, you could also ask students about the classes they had to take in different terms and what material was covered (generally). I'm sure every program does it differently but maybe there's a certain "flow" of information that makes more sense to you. I'm really happy at Mac, but it's my only experience so it's hard to compare!

 

I hope that's given you a bit of perspective - let me know if you have any other specific questions.
Cheers!

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/24/2017 at 10:34 PM, marinaOT said:

Hello!

I'm in my first year in the OT program and I can share a little about my experience. 

 

I think my favourite thing about the program is my classmates! I don't know if it's because you have to go through the MMI, but I've found we have a really great group of supportive and collaborative people.

 

Of course Mac is known for the problem-based learning and self-directed learning approaches and I'm sure you're wondering about those a little. In first year, we have "Problem-based tutorial" two times a week. We meet with a small group of students and a tutor (faculty or community clinicians) and work our way through clinical scenarios. 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. I think having to engage that way in a small group helps me work on my communication, research and time management skills. It is a tricky adjustment at first because nobody knows what they are doing in terms of how it's supposed to go, but you get there eventually. I think it's an especially rough go for people who have just come out of their undergrad and are used to having really clear expectations and knowing what they are supposed to be doing. An advantage of PBT is that you have choice in where you direct your learning: maybe it's something about the case that really interests you, or something you know you are weak in... There's that idea that you have obligations to the group (to bring back information that will help everyone move forward) but also to yourself (to work on your areas of weakness). Then there's the reality that you only have so much time in a week and school is so busy. I think it can be hard to live these PBT ideals all the time... but that could be said of any teaching approach to a certain extent. At this point, I can't really imagine OT school without PBT. As much as it can stress me out, I know it's where some of my best learning happens. 

 

Self-directed learning is another theme in the program. This is the philosophy that we are adult learners at this point and 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. I really appreciate the fact we are all expected to be mature and responsible because I think it sets a good tone of professionalism in the program. That being said, being self-directed is not always easy and it can start to wear on you when you're feeling overloaded. Don't get me wrong, the faculty is there to support you, but in a program that is already really condensed I've had moments feeling like I'm wasting precious time trying to figure out things myself. So it's kind of an "eat your greens" situation. It's probably good for me to develop this resourcefulness in the long run, but it doesn't mean it's always a walk in the park! That's where your amazing classmates come in - honestly everyone is so helpful and open to sharing their resources and strategies. 

 

Something that's important to consider about Mac is that the catchment area is quite large and you may need a car at some point. This is something the program really stresses and they assume you will have this taken care of if the need arises. You may only have your placement confirmed a few weeks ahead of time so it's important to have thought about how you would handle this. 

 

What else can I say... We have a lot of great community clinicians come in an help with lectures, which I've enjoyed. There is the option to do a placement up in Northern Ontario, which is a unique experience and one I highly recommend. Mac grads tend to have a strong reputation in the community and I'll be proud to say I graduated from the program. We have almost all our classes in the building the MMIs are in, but the campus is quite beautiful and lovely to walk around on a nice day. I had never lived in Hamilton, but I'm really enjoying it! 

 

I don't know whether you are deciding between different programs, but I really do believe in thinking about where you want to work after graduation. You will be making connections in that community and if you'll be staying in the area it's a huge bonus. You can apply to do placements "out of catchment", but these aren't guaranteed and placements in Toronto and BC can be hard to come by. 

 

Anyway - I should probably leave it there! Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with OT programs in Canada. Be honest with yourself about your learning style and needs and think about what the best fit would be. Anywhere you go the program is intense and you want to give yourself the best chance at succeeding. If you're having trouble wrapping your head around that, you could also ask students about the classes they had to take in different terms and what material was covered (generally). I'm sure every program does it differently but maybe there's a certain "flow" of information that makes more sense to you. I'm really happy at Mac, but it's my only experience so it's hard to compare!

 

I hope that's given you a bit of perspective - let me know if you have any other specific questions.
Cheers!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts - super helpful!

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