Handi-Care Intl. (HCI), a registered Canadian charitable organization, started the Clinical Placements program for Canadian graduate students studying rehab sciences in 2006. HCI coordinates such placements for Canadian Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, and Speech-language pathology students in their final year of the master’s program. HCI has facilitated affiliation agreements from 11 universities from Canada and the USA with Amar Seva Sangam to participate in the student’s clinical placements. A major feature of this program is these North American students gain a lot of experience and expertise working with young children and people of all ages with disabilities from a lower resource setting and earn credits towards their degree from their respective universities. Additionally, professional volunteers from abroad render their services to supervise the students, evaluate student performance, and participate in capacity building for ASSA staff.

Objectives of the program

For students:

  1. To develop clinical skill acquisition and learn about rehabilitation in low-resource settings in rural India.
  2. To get hands-on experience with young children with developmental delays. (Experience in the area is usually not available for most students in Canada)
  3. To focus on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and sustainable implementations between Canadian and Indian best practices.
  4. To establish procedures that help improve the function of people with disabilities in this unique setting.
  5. To collaborate with various Canadian universities in research projects.

No. of students/ volunteers visited in the following financial years:

Areas of training given:

  • In-patient Adult Spinal Cord Injured Rehab
  • Out-patient Adult Stroke and musculoskeletal Rehab‎
  • Early Intervention Rehab Program including village-based rehab Enabling Inclusion program (age 0-6, children with CP, autism, speech, hearing impairment) ‎‎
  • School Age Children Rehab Program‎
  • Special Needs School (children with intellectual disability) ‎

Universities with whom we have signed MoU

  1. University of British Columbia, Canada
  2. University of Manitoba, Canada
  3. Western University, Canada
  4. McMaster University, Canada
  5. Sherbrooke University. Canada
  6. Colorado State University, USA
  7. Queens University, Canada
  8. Dalhousie University, Canada
  9. University of Ottawa, Canada
  10. University of Toronto, Canada
  11. McGill University, Canada

Overall benefits for the students:

They found this placement challenging and an enriching learning and cultural experience. Taking part in this placement encouraged them to push their limits, think creatively, and collaborate with many others to solve problems. They found the placements to be a valuable learning experience. It was an honor for them and an absolute joy to participate in Amar Seva Sangam’s activities through international collaboration. They got the opportunity to practice independently, allowing them to move forward in their career with greater confidence. 

They found our structure fulfilled their desire to be independent and provided an excellent and challenging learning opportunity. Working as an OT, PT, speech therapist practitioner, or student within a limited resource setting strengthened their creativity. Despite language barriers and major cultural differences, the students gained significant therapeutic skills in Physio, speech, and Occupational aspects. This will serve them well in all future endeavors.

They have developed many valuable projects that gave them good independence and leadership skills. This placement has been an excellent experience for the students to develop their capacity for adaptation and to discover a really nice rehab center where everyone is treated with love and care.

Students’ testimonials:

The opportunity to be a part of Amar Seva Sangam was a vibrant, unique, and fun learning experience. Overall, I was to be creative in my treatment plans when working with a variety of conditions, and collaborative when working with the pediatric team and families I had an invaluable fieldwork experience at ASSA where I had the opportunity to work with different clinicians and clients, learn about the unique culture, and develop as a clinician in a supportive environment. 

This placement was an incredibly enriching learning experience, even when offered as a virtual placement option during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team at ASSA was accommodating to the time difference and provided us with countless learning opportunities and face-to-face time with actual patients. We could utilize self-directed learning and apply skills learned in school in a welcoming practice setting. I immensely enjoyed my time at ASSA and am so grateful for the learning experience. 

Doing virtual OT placement with ASSA was a fantastic experience! The staff was very supportive of our needs and concerns. Even though we were unable to be there in person we were able to create strong relationships with staff and clients. I hope in the future I will be able to go to volunteer at ASSA in person!

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