Finding passion in the workplace through physiotherapy

Claire Lemon (she/her), a fourth-year Kinesiology student, shares her journey from being a co-op student herself to now supervising new co-op students, the importance of building connections in the workplace and always putting her patients’ comfort first.


Claire's co-op journey:


Work term one: Claire’s first co-op was at Breslau Chiropractic. As a physiotherapy assistant, she was responsible for all front-desk duties, managing social media, assisting with treatments and instructing patients on exercises.

Work terms two and three: For her next two work terms, Claire was employed at SOS Physiotherapy where she handled front desk duties, marketing and patient treatments.


Q&A with Claire:


Claire Lemon smiling and posing

What has been the most rewarding part of your co-op journey so far?

“I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of great people. My previous employer at my first co-op was lovely, I still send them Christmas cards every year. Even going into SOS Physiotherapy, it is a group of very positive people that genuinely want to teach because they love it so much. It’s been a very supportive environment.”

“From a more professional standpoint, it’s helped me grow my network, which sets me up for graduation. I connected with people who can mentor me or even give me a reference! It’s great to see how clinics function before I graduate since I eventually want to work in one.”

 

What has been the most challenging experience in your co-op experience?

“During my first term, going through the application process was nerve-wracking, mainly because of my own emotions. After the first time, my mindset changed, but initially it was extremely challenging.”

“Similar to the most rewarding part, since I met so many great people, leaving was definitely one of the hardest parts."

Claire Lemon with team at work
 

What about the application process did you find challenging?

“I personally like the interviews as I enjoy chatting with people, so it’s mainly the application process itself and the rankings. There’s a lot of uncertainty and you don’t know what you’re ranked, so you must be very strategic while ranking and accepting offers. Especially since you’re matched with the job, you don’t know for a while whether you got it. All of this can be stressful ahead of your first work term.”


What was the one thing you were most curious to learn about in your organization?

Claire Lemon with coworker at desk looking at a laptop together

“For my first co-op, I was very fresh and had no clinical experience. So, it was about exploring how the clinic is run, what kind of patients they see and building a good rapport with people. With a new person coming in every 30 minutes, I had the opportunity to build a new connection every time.”

“Going into SOS Physiotherapy, my interest shifted more towards specific therapies that the professionals were performing. I got to shadow them often, see how they interact with the patients and make patients feel comfortable.”

 
“From a business perspective, working both in the back with patients, as well as at the front desk, gives you a very well-rounded understanding of how things function. I learned to encourage patients to trust me with their healthcare and make them feel comfortable when they’re in a vulnerable state. I really started to be intrigued by the fine details and small things in my second co-op because by then I had some experience working in a clinic. Since I went back to the same place for my third co-op, I took on some more responsibilities which was great practice for being more confident in front of patients.”

What are your tips for staying organized during the work term?

“I started work at different times every day; it wasn’t a typical nine-to-five job because of clinic hours. I’m huge on calendars and planners, I like having my tasks scheduled in my planner and a to-do list for each day. It took me a while to get into a routine, especially since I work different hours each day. Getting into a routine eventually helped because then I knew if I was working later, I had the morning free to finish other tasks."


What’s next for you?

“I’ll be applying for a Master of Physiotherapy program in the fall. I need clinical experience for that and one of the great things about co-op is it allowed me to fully be immersed in a clinic and gain that experience, which looks great on applications. I hopefully want to apply to be a physiotherapist one day and take the knowledge I’ve gained through co-ops, even about running a business at the front desk and translate that into my work."

Claire Lemon at work on desk

“In the meantime, I’m continuing to gain more clinical experience. I’ve started volunteering at a few clinics as well as with the University at Steps CC care. I’ve also been offered a leadership role at SOS Physiotherapy which is great, so I’ll continue to work on those skills such as building rapport and communicating with patients and leadership skills.”
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