Michener commits $10,000 to support students relocating for clinical placement

Respiratory Therapy student Alexandra Connolly in Personal Protective Equipment at work

One of the things that makes graduates from The Michener Institute of Education at UHN attractive to employers is the experience they gain during their clinical placements, which provides students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during their in-class learning in a hands-on environment. However, recent feedback from students revealed that relocating for clinical placements that are far from home is often cost-prohibitive.

That’s why Michener has committed $10,000 from its general bursary fund to support more students who relocate from their home address to complete their clinical placement in 2022.

Since 2008, Michener has awarded two Clinical Placement Relocation Awards of $2000 annually to students who have demonstrated a need. Recently, students have been encouraged to write more in the comment section when applying for awards to allow Michener’s Scholarships and Awards Committee to get a better picture of their financial situation.

“In addition to receiving several applications for the Clinical Placement Relocation Awards, we also heard from students just how difficult the relocation process has been for them and how much extra cost is associated with that,” says Financial Aid Officer Aidan Gray. “Because we can’t give everyone that applies an award, I realized that we needed to make a change so we can better support our students.”

Michener’s Registrar, Miranda Cheng, brought this issue to the attention of the Committee, who then approved the new initiative.

Michener’s affiliated clinical sites are valued partners in the education of allied health care professionals. They include teaching and community hospitals, private clinics and home care providers across Canada. Though numbers vary for each program, some of Michener’s programs saw up to 75 per cent of its students complete a clinical placement outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) during the 2021/2022 academic year.

“One of the goals in ensuring diverse clinical opportunities – some of which may be outside of the GTA or outside of the province – is to contribute to student exposure to rural, remote or varied provincial settings,” says Dia Gonzales, Clinical Placement Coordinator at Michener.

“While relocation may require personal and financial commitments, one of the many benefits is the contribution to the student’s personal and professional growth in a well-supervised, positive placement environment that may be novel to the student. In addition, this is a strategy that aims to address workforce shortages by encouraging provincial or interprovincial career uptake,” she says.

The $10,000 set aside for relocating students will become part of Michener’s general bursary process during the Winter 2022 semester, making it separate from the Clinical Placement Relocation Awards. This will allow students who may not qualify for an award to be considered. After assessments are complete, funds will be distributed starting in March.

“This is the first year we’re trying this out and if it goes smoothly, hopefully we can fine tune this process going forward,” says Aidan.