When Ryan Davies, prosthetics technician, finished his student placement at Holland Bloorview in March 2013, little did he know that only a year later, he himself would be back as a supervisor for a student from the same George Brown College program.
Excellence. Passion. Openness. These are the words that Mihai Pacurar, a second year student in the Prosthetic- Orthotic Technician Program at George Brown College who is working with Ryan, uses to describe the environment at Holland Bloorview.
Holland Bloorview’s culture of teaching and learning was apparent to both Ryan and Mihai when they first arrived. “The professionals here were ready for me, and they wanted to teach me,” Ryan reflects. When asked what makes a teaching environment different, Mihai says “Everyone on the team is open to listening to your ideas, even from a student.”
Both Mihai and Ryan enrolled in the Prosthetic-Orthotic Technician Program as a retraining opportunity. Being in their second careers, they bring a lot of life and professional knowledge to the job. For Mihai the richness of the student experience comes from the unique opportunity to create devices, including prosthesis, orthotics and other adapted devices, for real people. As he says, “Real life experiences are possible here.”
For example, Mihai and Ryan had the opportunity to work together on bilateral prostheses for a young client. “It was a unique opportunity to work alongside one another, rather than Mihai simply watching me demonstrate,” Ryan reflects. “We each made a prosthesis for the client and working side by side allowed Mihai to ask questions in real-time as we worked.”
A stimulating learning environment comes from more than just offering valuable student placements. It’s about building and maintaining a culture of learning and teaching. Through the establishment of the Teaching and Learning Institute, Holland Bloorview has done just that. As Canada’s largest pediatric rehabilitation and continuing care teaching hospital, there’s a solid commitment to excellence. Holland Bloorview is always looking for ways to enhance the educational experience for both staff and students.
Mihai lived that experience while being a student at Holland Bloorview. “I wasn’t treated like a student,” he says. “I was just part of the team.” Both the student and supervisor are quick to say it was a mutually beneficial relationship. “We learn from each other,” Ryan adds “Things happen more quickly when there’s a second set of hands.”
As a Prosthetic and Orthotic Technician student, Mihai greatly values the diversity of experience he has gained in just four short weeks. “In school, you learn from one teacher, and you think there’s only one way to do things. At Holland Bloorview, the technicians are so diverse,” Mihai explains. “They are naturally inclined to explain how and why they do things the way they do. I’m leaving my placement with more self-confidence and an understanding that I can create my own approach because I’ve been able to learn from so many excellent technicians.”
As a result of Mihai’s student placement, both Ryan and Mihai will now take what they learned from each other and apply it to their everyday work. In the end, it’s the future clients of both these technicians who will benefit most.