A Student’s Perspective on attending a National Congress

Physical Therapy Student and CPA Student Bursary winner, Shira Schwartz, tells her perspective on attending the Canadian Physiotherapy Congress 2018
Image by Nicola-Frank Vachon .

On graduating from the Physical Therapy program, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) Congress in Montreal thanks to the CPA's student bursary program. 

My favorite part about attending conferences, is the energy and enthusiasm that each professional has about their domain. This excitement spreads throughout the audience and leaves you feeling motivated to do the best job that you can. The CPA helps to allow students to share this enthusiasm within the field by offering student bursaries to attend CPA’s congress. The bursary covers all of the conference fees and even provides money for travel and accommodations! This year, 12 student bursaries were given out amongst all the Canadian universities, and I was lucky enough to be granted one.


My pro-tips

This was my third conference that I had attended during my years at McGill University, and so I have learned how to make the most out of my time. Conferences are exciting, yet exhausting, and can go by in a blink of an eye - if you let them. Here are a few of my pro-tips for those who plan to attend conferences in the future.

  1. Plan ahead

It’s important to plan your time wisely at conferences, so that you make sure to have a good balance in your day. When there are 5 different presentations going on at the same time, you want to avoid making last minute decisions by planning out exactly where you want to be.

  1. Take breaks

As important as all of the talks are, it’s also just as important to take breaks. If you want to be present throughout the lectures, and understand the material to a greater degree, you need to make sure that you take the time to step away when it’s needed. The free coffee in the break room can only take you so far.

  1. Pick up some free swag

Another great part about attending conferences is all of the free stuff that you can acquire over a weekend. This conference, I accrued k-tape, an ice pack, a goniometer, a theraband, and some pain relief cream amongst many others. The real pro-tip is to go to the kiosks towards the end of the conference, when they are much more likely to give away free stuff so that they don’t have to bring it back home with them.

  1. Network 
    Image by Nicola-Frank Vachon .

One of the best parts about conferences is being able to network with all of the prestigious physiotherapists under one roof. Everyone is so open and welcoming at conferences that you really can just introduce yourself to anyone. I made so many great connections at this CPA congress, and all I had to do was say hello.

  1. Have fun!

As much fun as attending lectures and networking is, the real fun goes on outside of these events. This year’s CPA congress had morning yoga, pole walking, and a swing dancing event in the evening. These events can be a great way to get to know people and even get closer with your McGill professors. 

Attending the CPA congress was a great opportunity that I will rememeber for a very long time. I made new friends, caught up with old colleagues, made new connections with professionals, and learned a whole lot.

Thank you so much to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association for providing me and students across Canada with this amazing opportunity.Thank you to McGill University for helping me turn into the professional that I am today, and preparing me for this amazing conference. Talking with professionals in the field, and having my once professors now call me their colleagues really helped to cement the fact that I am now transitioning to the workforce. 

Top photo: From left to right, Physical Therapists, Catherine St-Pierre, Shira Schwartz, Zackary Webber, Vi Ma, Pavitha Selv, and Kazunori Kikuchi. 

Photo credits: Nicola-Frank Vachon

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