I am originally from the United Kingdom (UK); however, I grew up in Barbados and studied Physical Therapy in Finland. Prior to coming to Canada, I had been working as a physiotherapist in the UK for 7 years, specializing in musculoskeletal disorders.
The quality of life in Canada in terms of opportunities for physiotherapists, earning potential, family ties, and the diversity of the Greater Toronto Area drew me to Ontario. I had also visited Toronto a few times and really enjoyed it.
I knew I wanted to practice physiotherapy in Canada, so I submitted my qualifications to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) while still living in the UK. It took two years for my qualifications to be reviewed and accepted. In 2011, I visited Toronto to write the multiple choice component of the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE) and passed.
In 2012, I finally settled in Canada and took a private preparation course in anticipation of the clinical exam. However, when I attempted the clinical component of the PCE I was unsuccessful. I was frustrated and knew I needed help tackling the clinical exam.
At this point, I was working as a physiotherapist under a resident’s licence (which was possible because I had already passed the written exam). I worked part-time at two clinics, feeling confident and competent, although I needed guidance as to how to prepare for this exam; taking a clinical exam is a skill in and of itself!
One of my colleagues, also internationally educated, told me about the bridging program at the University of Toronto. I was drawn to the clinical exam preparation and internship components of the program and entered the program in 2013.
The bridging program made a huge difference. It helped me to categorize knowledge and understand how to answer clinical questions efficiently. I came to see that clinical exams are a sort of role play and this helped me know what to expect.
I challenged the clinical exam during the bridging program in November 2013 and passed! I also completed two internships: one at the Toronto General Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the other at Bayview Physio and Sports Medicine Clinic, where I ended up landing my first job as a fully licensed physiotherapist.
The bridging program helped me build a professional network and played a key role in launching my career. In October 2016, I opened my own physiotherapy clinic called PhysActiv Sports Medicine in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I am also a status-only appointment professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto and I volunteer for the Bridging program; providing assistance and mentorship to new students. The program made such a difference in my life and I want to ensure other internationally educated physiotherapists have the same positive experience I did.