Training trainers in India

We are excited to announce a new project that is led by a joint team from Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA) in Tamil Nadu, India,  Handi-Care International and the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy , McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

ASSA and Handi-care Intl. are non-governmental organizations that focus on grass roots advocacy for persons with disabilities and on direct programs for rehabilitation, education, vocational training and livelihood promotion. Over the coming year, we will be working collaboratively to develop, implement and evaluate a train-the-trainer program that is tailored to the needs at ASSA. The project is funded by the Edith Strauss Rehabilitation Research Program.

One of the reasons we are excited about this project is that it builds on a growing collaboration between ASSA and SPOT. For the past six years, McGill occupational therapy and physiotherapy students have conducted clinical rotations at ASSA. In addition, SPOT students have recently undertaken two research projects at ASSA. SPOT faculty have also visited ASSA, and the ASSA team member who is co-project lead on the train-the-trainer grant, physiotherapist Ram Ponnusamy, will spend a month in Montreal this fall. In this sense, our newly launched project has a strong foundation. We’re hoping that it will continue to enrich these growing institutional ties. Listen to a podcast with occupational therapy students commenting on international fieldwork here.

So, what will we be doing?  The end goal of the new project is to design and implement a train-the-trainer program for ASSA. We aim to support and expand skills, knowledge and capacities of staff members at ASSA who are involved in training as part of their professional activities. These roles include providing training to other rehabilitation providers at ASSA, as well as education that is done with families and clients such as teaching home exercise programs. In creating the train-the-trainer program, we will draw on what is currently known as the most effective approaches for this sort of training, as well as experiences developing train-the-trainer resources in other settings.  (more…)

Taking action: My journey to Pivot International

Marie-Kim McFetridge, McGill M.Sc.(OT) 2011, in Nicaragua, offering occupational therapy services to disabled children in need.

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Many of us who choose a career in the health professions do so because we want to make a positive impact on the lives of others.  I most certainly did, and in December 2012, I jumped at the chance to participate in a rehabilitation project that brought me to the little village of Santa Julia in Nicaragua to help Milton, a 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.  This project was the brainchild of then-student Simone Cavanaugh, now a McGill law graduate, who met Milton and his family while participating in a humanitarian project the previous year.  Profoundly touched by Milton’s situation, Simone returned home to Canada determined to help him obtain the necessary adaptive equipment to realize his full potential.

This project was for me, the beginning of a life-changing adventure.  In this first trip, we helped young Milton, who was housebound and required full time care provided by his mother.  Milton received a specially adapted wheelchair, as well as training on its use and proper body positioning.  You can imagine the impact we had on Milton’s quality of life, as well as his mother’s.  By allowing him to sit upright in a chair, Milton could better interact with his environment and work towards achieving more developmental milestones, such as improving his motor and communication skills.  Just as compelling, this allowed Milton and his mother to better integrate into the community, with more opportunities to learn, play and socialize with peers.  (more…)

Seizing the Opportunity: A Placement in India

Brittany Myhre (left) with her supervisor, Harsha Babani, and others after a training seminar in Amar Seva Sangam, in Tamil Nadu, India.

As part of the Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, each student is required to complete 4 clinical placements to gain clinical experience, and put our classroom knowledge into practical application.  When the opportunity to apply for an international placement came up, I seized it and  was fortunate to be granted a chance to participate in an 8-week stage in Tamil Nadu, India.

The host organization, Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA) is located in a very rural portion of Southern India and is a non-profit organization, serving children in its early intervention school, a special school for children with learning, intellectual or physical disabilities, an in-patient spinal cord rehabilitation unit, vocational training, in addition to an integrated school system, where children from the community can also attend. Most of the services are offered free of charge, which allows the families living within the surrounding communities to attend to their children’s needs without concern to their already often precarious financial situations.    (more…)

New Global Health Coordinator at McGill SPOT

AnikGHRIblogAnik Goulet, PT

My journey to the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy (SPOT) has not been a simple one but one that I’d like to share with you.

My story starts with the University of Ottawa, where I graduated with a BSc in Physiotherapy- was yet to be a Masters at that point!.  I returned to work in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, where I grounded my clinical skills working with an adult population in acute care hospitals, home care and a private clinic. Having enjoyed being a clinical preceptor for over 5 years, I chose to  return to school and complete a Master’s in Education at the University of Ottawa.

It was on January 10th, 2010, while I was teaching at la Cite Collegiale, that I was very emotionally affected by my Haitian students who were devastated  by an earthquake that was happening in their native country. That was the day I told myself that if I could do something to help, I would. And, I did. (more…)

School Based Clinical Fieldwork in Ayukudi, India: Applying the Theory!

Sitara Khan seated with students of ASSA

As Occupational Therapy Masters students, we are required to complete 4 placements in a clinical setting, so when the opportunity to do one internationally arose, I couldn’t say no! Rural South India was a land as foreign to us as we imagined OT might be to it. To our amazement, in the little village with its limited resources and proportionally large population, an inspiring rehabilitation facility, spanning acres of land, had made its place. Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), a non-profit organization catering to a lifespan of people with disabilities, with its early intervention center, special school, vocational training workshop and extensive spinal cord injury rehabilitation program, offered free services to its population.

Naturally, I worried about our interventions being culturally sensitive and our abilities matching the needs of the population, but I soon realized that the resemblances in the problems we faced, far exceeded the differences. Yes, the setting had fewer material resources than an equivalent center in Canada, but the lack of human resources was an issue that sounded all too familiar!

In our OCC1-617 class, we learned that very few OTs in Quebec practice in school-based settings. Often, a single OT is assigned to an entire school board, resulting in an area of great needs and no service providers. The same challenge presented itself at ASSA: the entire center relied on the services of a single part-time OT. Working at ASSA’s Special School, and quickly became aware that the needs exceeded what I could provide in my 2 month stage, but I wanted to make meaningful change. (more…)

More than a Master’s Group Project in Haiti

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Evans Juste, Physiotherapist

As part of the School’s Global Health Initiative, physiotherapy Master’s student, Evans Juste recently had the opportunity to represent his Master’s Group Project in Haiti, which also included the unique opportunity to visit his parents’ home country. “We found that the future needs would be to advocate to stakeholders and increase available opportunities to those graduating from these programs that are realistic to meet the needs in a third world country” explains Evans.  On a personal level, “It was a true cultural experience for me that I really appreciated, to hear stories from my grandparents, to be welcomed by the people, and to see and experience the country and culture that I had only imagined when I was younger, this was an opportunity for which I am grateful for on both a personal and professional level.”

The project examined professional practice contexts of graduates from three rehabilitation technician programs in Haiti, and explored the graduates’ work profiles and perceptions regarding their readiness to work, difficulties encountered at work, and their vision for professional development. The group produced an informal observation report on the rehabilitation technician program and overall job satisfaction as well as two policy briefs for physiotherapy rehabilitation in patients affected by stroke and traumatic brain injury in this population.

This project was funded by the McBurney Advanced Training Program, through the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy.

Evans Juste has graduated and is now working at Action Sport, Physio Rivière-des-Prairies!

(more…)

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