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The life of an MSc Physiotherapist – student Laura’s journey so far

27th May 2021

Student physiotherapist, Laura

Tell us a bit about yourself,

Hello, my name is Laura and I’m a final year MSc student physiotherapist at the University of Southampton. My undergrad was in Sport and Exercise Biomedical Sciences at the University of Exeter. Outside of university I enjoy playing lacrosse and aerial sports, socialising with friends and music. I also work as a therapy assistant in my local hospital to earn some money, and to gain further experience.

Why did you choose an MSc in physiotherapy?

I always knew I wanted a career in healthcare, as I have always been interested in science, medicine and health promotion. I decided not to do physiotherapy straight away (at BSc level) as I wanted to gain experience working within healthcare first, as well as learning more about the general anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology of the body. This is a decision I stand by and would recommend as I feel like it’s improved my active listening skills, made me more aware of the multi-disciplinary team roles and has improved my knowledge of a wide range of conditions. It was also something I could talk about at my interview.

My work experience allowed me to see the impact that physio’s can have on a patient’s quality of life, and I was inspired to do the same. I wanted a job where I was an actively helping people, and I’ve always enjoyed working in a multi-disciplinary team. I then got a job as a healthcare assistant to gain some experience, which I loved. I was drawn to the variety of specialities physiotherapists can pursue, and the opportunities for personal and professional development.

There’s also the chance to do research as an academic or work within education too. You don’t have to just be clinical if you don’t want to, which I like!

Why the interest in pelvic health and cardio – respiratory?

I have always been interested in medicine, and so my cardio-respiratory modules which really focused on the patho-physiological reasoning for a patient’s condition or acute presentation has definitely been my favourite so far. I have enjoyed using my knowledge of how the human body is supposed to work, to assess a patient and then problem solve how we are going to improve their symptoms. Your interventions can cause drastic improvements, especially if the patient is acutely unwell.

Over the course of the last year, I attended a number of webinars and conferences which have inspired my interest into pelvic health / women’s health- a relatively unknown area of physiotherapy. I find the pelvic floor’s control of bladder, bowel and sexual function fascinating, as well as the extensive physiological and hormonal changes a woman will experience whilst pregnant. It is such an important speciality, as the conditions the physio’s treat such as incontinence or pelvic girdle pain have such extensive impacts on a patient’s quality of life!

Top piece of advice for anyone wanting to go down this path?

My biggest piece of advice for anyone thinking of applying to physio is to consider why you want to do physiotherapy, and to get some relevant healthcare experience, as it makes placements significantly less scary! Physio isn’t just about treating sports injuries, so you need to be prepared to work in a variety of settings such as an acute hospital or within the community too.

Anything else you would like to add?

Placements may be scary initially, but I have found them so useful to put what we have learnt into practice, as well as learning many other skills whilst there. I have had 3 placements so far, which have been in a range of settings. I have been in the major trauma unit, part of the community stroke team, and in MSK outpatients so far.

There are so many options, and ways to access a course such as degree apprenticeships and foundation courses. There’s now also a £5k bursary for certain courses like physio to help fund if this is something that worries you. As a post-grad we still have access to student finance as a healthcare course- thankfully!

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