By Laurence Miall
For the first time in McGill as well as Canadian history, the step from classroom to clinical practice for physical and occupational therapy students was marked by a special event– the School of P&OT’s inaugural Name-Tag Ceremony. Third-year students convened at the Palmer Howard Theatre to receive the name-tags that they will wear throughout their upcoming clinical placements. They were treated to insights and encouragement from guest speakers, faculty and fellow students.
Dr. Annette Majnemer, Interim Director of the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy stressed the symbolism of the name-tag: “Your name-tag signifies who you are, as an individual with unique strengths and attributes that you will bring to your profession; it indicates the professional you are becoming, confirming to others that you will abide by ethical, professional behaviours; and it identifies you as a student of McGill University, attesting to the high caliber and rigour of your educational training.”
Mary-Ann Dalzell PT, MSc, a clinical research associate for the Young Adult Program of the Hope & Cope Wellness Centre in Montreal, spoke on the subject of professionalism. “Striving for excellence is the over-riding characteristic of all professionals and includes a full commitment to patient care and a full commitment to the advancement of your profession,” she said. She encouraged the students to “be lifelong learners,” “seekers of knowledge,” and to “maintain the curiosity of discovery.”
Kathleen Montpetit, OT, MSc, Director of the Physical and Occupational Therapy Department and Clinical Outcomes Coordinator at the Shriner’s Hospital in Montreal, spoke about the essential work therapists can do as clinician-researchers. She evoked the “bench to bedside” ethos for which McGill is reputed. “I am convinced that we therapists are very well suited to being clinician-researchers,” she said. “We are trained in observation and are good listeners. We see our patients fall, progress, plateau and hear their frustrations and then feel their acceptance.”
Occupational therapy student Rebecca Todor and physical therapy student Pamela Dinunzio also addressed the packed lecture theatre with inspiring words about their experiences and that of their peers, anticipating the next step in their journey.
Vice-Principal and Dean of Medicine, Richard I. Levin, summed up the sentiments of the celebration. “This event is a launch into the vast sea of the health sciences,” he said. “Although some features of the voyage are familiar to those of us who have already established careers, none of us can tell you what to expect on your own particular journey… It goes without saying that you’re going to learn a lot.”