Quick Links

PT & OT - February 2009

The full version of the February 2009 CAPSScoop for the School of Information Studies can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

Should I get a Mentor?

Getting the Inside Scoop Through Informational Interviewing

Clinical Placements in the Eastern Townships of Quebec


Should I get a Mentor?

by Janice Tester, CaPS Career Advisor

Dealing with difficult clients. Negotiating a raise. Starting a new job or your own practice. These are the kinds of situations that many PT/OT grads find themselves facing after leaving McGill, and there's only so much that classroom learning can prepare for. So why not consider finding a mentor - someone who has been there and can help guide you through the new challenges that you will face as a young professional in the field? Mentors are there:

  • To coach you and guide on the next steps to follow;
  • To provide you with the necessary aid in further defining your personal career and other developmental objectives;
  • To assist you in exploring career and labour market information while gaining exposure to the workforce;
  • To identify trends and opportunities in health care;
  • To receive tips and information about the job and guidance on professional image;
  • To determine whether the organization being pursued matches your interests and expectations;
  • To better understand business ethics and etiquette.

Definition of Mentorship

“Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship in which a more experienced person helps a less experienced person, referred to as a protégé, apprentice, mentee, or (person) being mentored, develop in a specified capacity.” (From Wikipedia)

Mentorship relationships can fall along a continuum of informal to formal. Informal relationships tend to develop on their own between partners. We can find a friend, a family member, that acts as a mentor in many aspects of our lives. Formal mentoring, on the other hand, refers to assigned relationships, often associated with organizational mentoring programs designed to promote employee development.

Formal mentoring programs focus specifically on career development. In well-designed formal mentoring programs, there are program goals, schedules, training (for both mentors and protégés), and evaluation.

How does Mentorship Differ from Supervisorship?

In physiotherapy and occupational therapy practice the term supervisor is associated with a student and a clinical tutor. In a relationship with a supervisor they often have a formalized evaluation role over the student and often times there are enforced external objectives that need to be accomplished by the protégée. The supervisor role is linked to professional goals.

In contrast, a mentoring relationship is a reciprocal learning process involving sharing knowledge and experience between individual mentors and mentees. A mentor does not have to be a manager or supervisor to facilitate the process. The mentor and mentee negotiate and set up the mentoring relationship and goals. The mentor provides feedback but does not have any role in evaluation of the mentee and there are no overall external objectives. The mentoring relationship can address personal development, leadership development, career development as well as professional development.

New-hire Mentorship

For example, in some programs, newcomers to the organization (protégés) are paired with more experienced people, mentors, in order to obtain information, good examples, and advice as they advance. It is considered that new employees who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their job than those who do not receive mentorship (Kaye and Jordan-Evans, 2005).


Mentorship Programs to Research Further:

Canadian Physiotherapy Association Mentorship Program

The Mentorship Program is available to physiotherapy professionals throughout Canada, who are CPA members to support reciprocal learning through the sharing of knowledge and experience.

The CPA Mentorship Matching Program is offered as a free benefit of membership, sustained by a simple and flexible design that allows mentors and mentees to determine the scope and nature of their professional relationship, whether it be to develop career, clinical or professional issues. The Program can be utilized for short-term issues, e.g., to find an appropriate person to address a clinical question, or for longer-term mentor relationships that may be sustained over weeks or months.

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

CAOT has a mentorship program called the Mentor Gateway. Its goal is to connect mentors and mentees with information and resources about mentoring. You must be a member in order to access any information on this valuable resource.

The McGill Mentor Program

The Mentor Program, which traces its roots back to 1995, was founded by the Student Organization for Alumni Relations (SOAR) to help students in their search for advice, direction and a slice of reality in regards to what their futures might have in store. Since its establishment, it has helped hundreds of students meet McGill alumni and staff who are leaders in their fields, industries and communities. The program is now managed through a tri-partnership between the McGill Alumni Association (MAA), Career Planning Service (CaPS) and the Student Organization for Alumni Relation (SOAR).

The McGill Mentor Program views the mentoring relationship between mentors and students as a partnership. Participation of both parties is voluntary, and thus the success of the exchange is dependant on the commitment of both the student and the mentor; a joint investment is required in order to attain joint gains. Meetings between mentor and mentee are as flexible as the participants desire them to be: they can occur as often as is convenient, and range from casual exchanges to formal meetings. The Mentor Program is not intended as a job placement service for students, but is offered as a tool for students seeking career path advice from successful and experienced McGill Alumni and staff. All McGill students are welcome in the program, and recent graduates are eligible for the program for up to a year after graduation.


Kaye, Beverly; Jordan-Evans, Sharon (2005). Love 'Em or Lose Em: Getting Good People to Stay. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. p. 117. ISBN 13: 978-1-57675-327-9.

Getting the Inside Scoop Through Informational Interviewing

by Janice Tester, CaPS Career Advisor (adapted from University of Wisconsin website)

One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening in OT/PT or a specific employer is to talk to people working in the field. This process is called informational or research interviewing. An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job.

You might ask yourself, so why should I conduct informational interviews? One of the main reasons is to clarify your career goal and to discover employment opportunities that are not advertised. It will also help you in building confidence for your job interviews. Because of the contacts you will be making, you find all about the inside scoop and significant leads which will ultimately land you the job that is best suited for you. Just keep in mind, the person you are interviewing is not necessarily the one that will give you the job, but will be instrumental in you finding out about interesting positions for you.


1. Identify the Organization You Wish to Learn About

Assess your own interests, values, and skills, and identify the best organizations that might fit them.

2. Prepare for the Interview

Read all you can about the organization prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about them. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered.

3. Identify People to Interview

Start with lists of people you already know and ask them whom they might know - friends, relatives, fellow students, supervisors, neighbors, etc. Your professional organizations, organizational directories, and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of one of the OT/PT in their organization.

4. Arrange the Interview

Contact the person to set up an interview either:

  • by telephone,
  • by an email followed by a telephone call, or
  • by having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you.

5. Conduct the Interview

Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be polite and professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new contacts.

6. Follow Up

Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of the interview.


Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview. Following are some sample questions:

  1. On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
  2. I am interested in your background, what training or education did you have?
  3. What personal qualities do you consider are important to being successful in this job?
  4. What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
  5. How did you get your job?
  6. What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
  7. What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
  8. How do you see your job changing in the future?
  9. What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
  10. What types of training do new employees obtain entering this organization?
  11. What are the main prerequisites for jobs in this field?
  12. Which professional association(s) do you belong to?
  13. What do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?
  14. From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
  15. If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself?
  16. Why? What would you change?
  17. What do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I change it?
  18. Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?

Clinical Placements in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

Article submitted by Cynthia Van Vliet, PRIESH Project Coordinator

The PRIESH project in the Estrie region of the Eastern Townships can offer clinical placements for McGill students in Social Work, Nursing, Occupational and Physical therapy, Dietetics, Psychology, and Speech Therapy. The PRIESH project is part of the McGill Retention Program and allows for McGill students to do some of their regular course requirements for clinical education in the Estrie Health and Social Services.

Are you interested in seeing a new city and in having a clinical placement in a different region? The PRIESH project allows students to travel, work and study with many expenses paid. So where is Estrie? The Estrie region is southeast of Montreal and includes the city of Sherbrooke, which is about 2 hours by car or bus from Montreal, and the city Magog, which is about 1.5 hours from Montreal. Estrie is an area which is rich in tourism with skiing and snow boarding in the winter and swimming, kayaking, horse back riding, golf, biking, and hiking in the summer.

There are several quality hospitals in the Estrie region (www.santeestrie.qc.ca). For example, the CHUS in Sherbrooke is an acute care university affiliated hospital which is active in research and education and which provides excellent patient care (www.chus.qc.ca).

Here is an interview with a McGill Occupational Therapy student, Philippe Foley, who is currently doing a stage in paediatrics at the CHUS in Sherbrooke. He is from Lac Megantic in Estrie.

How did you hear about the program?

I heard about the program from Ms. Caroline Storr, faculty of the McGill School of Occupational Therapy.

I understand that you have done two stages at the CHUS.

Yes, one stage was in neuro-traumatology and currently I am doing a stage in paediatrics and psycho-paediatrics.

How were the stages at the CHUS?

Great. Here I’ve been learning a lot both at a personal and at a professional level. The supervisors have taught me everything I needed to know so that I could make good evaluations, reports and prognosis. The whole team is working in a same direction in order to establish the best diagnosis for all clients.

What did you like the best about the stages at the CHUS?

The team is nice. The professionals share their knowledge and naturally help with the learning. It’s nice to come to work; it’s a positive environment.

Outside of the stage at the CHUS, the coordinator of the project was supportive. She helped with finances and was available to help if needed.

There is an opportunity to integrate in the community. I was regularly given information through the Internet via my e-mail about the different leisure activities available. There was information about outings, theatres, bars, and local events.

What do you like about the city of Sherbrooke and the region?

I like the city. It is easy to go from a part of the city to another part of the city in a short time. I have friends here and it is good to see them regularly. It is easy to find anything you need, not like in a small town. The landscape here is beautiful, with many mountains. I can see further here than in Montreal with a view of the fields and woods - for me that kind of landscape is normal as I’ve been raised in such an environment but still I truly appreciate it.

What activities do you enjoy in the region?

I like snow boarding. One can go snow shoeing. It’s nice to walk at Mont Orford. On King Street the bars are nice. There are peaceful ones and ones where there is dancing. I go with friends occasionally.

Is there anything you would like to tell other students etc.

Not to be scared going out of Montreal, as you have a lot of support here (in Sherbrooke). You have support from the PRIESH project coordinator, from the personnel at the stage at the CHUS, and from the McGill faculty. The professors at McGill were available when I asked questions. The people at the stage placement are supportive and the Sherbrooke community is friendly.


For more information about the clinical placements or about summer jobs in the Estrie region of The Townships, please contact Cynthia Van Vliet, PRIESH project coordinator, at 819 346-1110 extension 22573, or by %20cv@priesh [dot] info%20or%20cvanvliet [dot] chus [at] ssss [dot] gouv [dot] qc [dot] ca (email). For information about the McGill clinical placements in the Estrie region please visit:

For employment opportunities in Estrie in the Health and Social Services public sector please see the website. This website is a resource for information about the Eastern Townships health care sector in general as well as the available health care jobs and salaries.


Classified as