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School of Rehabilitation Therapy Physical Therapy students and faculty practice the 'oil thigh' dance.

‘Remember When?’

by Physical Therapy Program faculty members Professor Diana Hopkins-Rosseel and Dr. Lucie Pelland.

Who among us doesn’t remember the university we first attended as an undergraduate … the orientation week fun and camaraderie, picking our major and our courses, moving into a campus residence and making so many new friends? And then there were the challenges … the strangeness of navigating the campus, the anxiety of our midterms and papers, and some loneliness to boot. This all to say, we remember. We achieved many, many personal milestones and the hard knocks along the way made us stronger. In the end, we became members of an important group, the graduates of that university. We feel a warmth for our alma mater and an allegiance to its mission. As an alumnus, most contribute to the future of the university and love to hear the goings on in alumni newsletters and other communications.

What about grad school? Do we remember the school song? Do we feel we are an integral part of the whole – the graduate program and the university? Perhaps not. If not, why is this? Are we missing opportunities to facilitate students, faculty and staff coming together in a meaningful way? Not just through the productivity and activities of the graduate supervisor’s and instructors’ research and education, but through the joys of ‘playing together’, solidarity of goals and a team approach to the inevitable challenges.

Professional Masters programs are especially challenging in terms of creating that natural cohesion of a group working and enjoying diversions together. Picture a research group with 3 MSc students, 1 PhD student, a Fellow and a supervisor. There is built in mentorship, a ship with a captain but where all crew are essential. How much easier it is to meet, collaborate and have social times together. How much simpler to recognize conflict or challenges early and to put in place steps to support any person needing a little more direction. Now picture our rehabilitation programs. How do we pull together 60 to 100 students into a cohesive whole? A group who feel ownership for each other and the program. This is not easy, but we feel this essential. Building relationships and working well together will lead to a smoother and supported transition into professional practice, where graduates continue the ties that bound them together from the outset.

Knowing the importance of transitions and belonging, the faculty of the Physical Therapy Program at Queen’s started the year with welcoming our students with drumming, song and dance; providing a sense of our Canadian heritage and our Queen’s University cultural traditions.

Next steps? The students have taken on the task of making a unique Physical Therapy Program flag to lead the group, the faculty and students will continue practicing the Oil Thigh and we will all continue to explore and share our roots.

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