At school, I was heavily into sports and fitness, but in order to please my parents, I started an engineering degree at university. I hated it! In my second year, I transferred into physical education. Physiotherapy seemed like a natural progression for me. It’s a serious profession, which allowed me to stay in contact with the sports and fitness world. I therefore decided to return to university to get a physiotherapy qualification. Since graduating, I’ve taken other courses in the area of orthopaedic manual therapy and worked in hospitals, and in sports injury clinics.
What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?
Hands-on therapy, such as soft-tissue massage and joint mobilisation, is a big part of physiotherapy, so physiotherapists must have excellent manual skills. The ability to reason well and analyse problems is also important. In order to assess and treat a patient properly, physiotherapists must form conclusions from a wide range of physical, psychological and historical information. Also, you must have good people skills. A physiotherapist is responsible for motivating, educating and empathising with patients, students and other healthcare professionals.
What do you like about your job?
I find that physiotherapy is a very personally rewarding profession. With my skills, I can make a difference in a person’s performance and function. I also find that physiotherapy is challenging and very thought-provoking. If someone comes to me with leg pain, for example, their problem can stem from their back, or their hip, or their knee, or a multitude of other areas. And, it’s up to me to discover where it’s coming from and treat that particular problem. I also find that it’s a very people-oriented profession. I get to meet other professionals – all with a vested interest in getting the patient better, and I enjoy doing that.
What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Make sure you’re the type of person that can communicate with people both effectively and with confidence. Do voluntary work in different physiotherapy settings, such as private clinics or hospitals, or even in business.
And, finally, talk to physiotherapists; find out if this is exactly what you want to do.