Name: Alyssa Milley
Degree program: Kinesiology (Co-op)
Co-op job title: Physiotherapy Assistant
Employer: TSL Physio and ProActive Physiotherapy
Graduating class of: 2018
What did you enjoy most about your co-operative education experience?
Getting the opportunity to explore different clinical settings and work with several different therapists really solidified my interest in physiotherapy as a career. But even before starting the work terms I appreciated the chance to take part in the evening sessions with the co-op office staff. Learning how to build a resume and cover letter is a basic skill that everyone should receive guidance on. The job competition is great preparation for real life and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to go through the interview process and get an idea of what people are looking for. Participating in co-op also allowed me to learn both hands on and through research for the final report. Even though writing the report was not always fun, looking back now I am appreciative for the chance to learn more about a topic relevant to the profession I was working in. It is also an opportunity to get more practice with writing a formal report and finding relevant research. Overall, I enjoyed all aspects of the co-operative education process and experience. I can’t imagine completing this degree any other way!
What “ah-ha” moments did you have during your co-op term?
A client with an ankle injury who had fallen on the worksite came hobbling in on crutches. It was a very severe injury, several fractures, lots of swelling and bruising but, it was our job to help them walk again. I remember the client coming in three times a week at the start and it was hard to see the improvements at first but after a few weeks we were able to do more with them. Some weeks had passed and I remember the therapist saying we were going to need to start the client on some strengthening exercises. I was tasked with creating and implementing, after the therapist approved it, a lower body strengthening program for the client. We started the program and week after week they continued to see improvements and we progressed the difficulty as needed. I did not get to see the client all the way through to discharge as my time there was done but I remember leaving that work term knowing that I was going to be a physiotherapist one day. Getting to see that client from the beginning and all the progress they had made week after week was so rewarding. Obviously not everyone’s injury is going to be as severe and require the same course of treatment but, knowing that you are helping someone from start to finish and having a positive impact on their life is priceless.
How has co-operative education helped you plan for your future?
Taking part in co-op has helped me solidify my future career path. Having the privilege to work in two well established physiotherapy clinics helped me finalize the decision to pursue a career in physiotherapy. Because of the opportunities I had working in a clinic with several different therapists, I was able to see the broad scope of practice physiotherapists have. There are also other areas in physiotherapy I have not had the chance to see yet but because of networking I have become aware of them and can pursue them later on. Networking is critical for any job and I know that throughout my future studies the connections I have made with companies and therapists here will help me when looking for placements or jobs. Participating in the work terms helped me establish not only what I want to do but, why I want to do it. It has given me a passion and an excitement for my future career path.
What advice would you have for a student considering co-operative education?
Take the time to think about it. What is three extra semesters if it allows you the opportunity to find your passion or dream career? Take the chance on something that may not sound appealing to you because you never know what could come from it. Co-operative education not only allows you to put classroom knowledge into hands on work but it also gives you an idea of what you may want to do or don’t want to do after you graduate. Taking part in work terms will help you strengthen skills you already have and it will also help you work on new ones. These skills are an asset to you as it can put you above other applicants when applying for jobs. However, people say getting a job is more about who you know than what you know so why not take the opportunity and make some connections. If you network with businesses, clinicians, clients, and co-workers now while you’re still in school it could create an opportunity for you once you finish. I would strongly recommend participating in co-operative education if you have the opportunity to do so because, I have seen first-hand the positive impact it can have on someone’s future.