LEENA PULLAKKUDIYIL MATHEW’S STORY
I was born and raised in India. I knew that Canada had greater opportunities for physiotherapists including job availability, continuing studies and professional development. My husband came to Ontario first and then sponsored me in 2009. Once I arrived in Canada, I submitted my qualifications to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR). It took two years for my application to be processed. During this time, I began working as a Physiotherapy Assistant in private clinics and long-term care.
In 2012, I passed the written component of the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE), but struggled a lot with the clinical exam. I simply did not understand the clinical exam expectations and how to prepare for it. I paid to attend practice skill preparation workshops, but I needed more assistance. One day I was on the CAPR website and learned about the Ontario Internationally Educated Physical Therapy Bridging (OIEPB) Program at the University of Toronto. I decided to give it a try and entered the program in 2015. Then, everything changed.
With the help of the Ontario Internationally Educated Physical Therapy Bridging Program, I was able to improve my assessment and treatment skills, learned Canadian-style documentation, communication skills and exam preparation. I learned so much about physical therapy practice in Canada. I completed two internships at Trillium Health Partners: one in the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit and the other in the Outpatient MSK Hand Program. These experiences really enhanced my confidence as a physiotherapist and expanded my professional network.
After graduating from the bridging program in February 2016, I started preparing for the clinical exam, studying hard with some of my bridging colleagues. We were able to use the Rehabilitation Sciences Building at the University of Toronto to study and had access to all the equipment we needed to practice. The bridging program faculty were there to help us every step of the way. They even conducted mock exams to help us prepare.
I passed the clinical exam in August 2016! It felt amazing after seven years. The Bridging program helped me prepare my resume and practice for job interviews. With the help of the program, I secured a job in Northern Ontario and have been working there since November 2016 as a full-time Physical Therapist. I love what I do now.
Looking back, I wish I had found the bridging program sooner. In a 10-month period, I passed the clinical exam, improved my skills and gained a professional network. The time you put in is worth it!