- 28 September 2020
- 7 min read
Why I Became A Physiotherapist And What I Love About ItSubscribe To Advice
- Aubrey Hollebon
- Mat Martin
- Richard Gill
- Seigha Onwuteaka
- Dera Hyde
- Glory Akosa
- Nqobani Dube
Physiotherapist, Anita, gives an overview of her varied career in Physiotherapy, what still keeps her excited about it and what makes it such a dynamic career choice.
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Why I Became A Physiotherapist
I remember being in the living room with a newspaper in my hand.
My father had been encouraging my siblings and I to read and engage with the news.
In his words “reading newspapers and watching the news will help you have a conversation with anyone”.
Adhering to these words would be a reluctant teenager picking up a newspaper just because her father had said so.
However, on this day in the living room, something changed.
I had developed a “knack” for enjoying the comedy and sports sections and reading a few headlines.
Little did I know that a newspaper would facilitate a bigger conversation about a career in physiotherapy.
There it was in the sports section.
“Jay-Jay” Okocha, a Nigerian football player and national treasure, had been injured and required a physiotherapist.
I immediately thought to myself, 'Who is a physiotherapist and how can I be one?'.
Now, you have to understand, football is one of the highly celebrated sports in Nigeria and “Jay-Jay” Okocha was a force to reckon with on the field.
So, what was this profession that provided the chance to provide rehabilitation for great athletes like Mr Okocha to return to sports?
Whatever it was, I wanted in!
I started doing research to understand physiotherapy but, honestly, this was very focused on sports physiotherapy.
Nonetheless, the more I learned about the profession, the more it felt like I was meant to do this.
I was already interested in studying anatomy and biology, playing sports and travelling so physiotherapy felt like the career that would perfectly blend my interests.
However, physiotherapy did not appear like a lucrative or interesting career choice for some friends and family which was challenging.
I would get looks of disapproval and discouraging responses because I had not chosen to be a medical doctor, engineer or lawyer which were considered the top three professions.
Sometimes, I would doubt choosing physiotherapy, but I am thankful for the people who encouraged me.
Gaining Qualifications & Experience
During my undergraduate (pre-physical therapy) program in the United States of America (USA), I observed physiotherapists practice in largely musculoskeletal or sports-based settings.
However, my perception was about to be toppled and expanded during my Master’s in bonnie Scotland.
I had the opportunity to finish my Master’s at the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The lecturers and placement tutors were highly skilled clinicians in several areas of physiotherapy practice.
I explored physiotherapy in musculoskeletal, neurological and respiratory care which opened my mind to the endless opportunities beyond sports physiotherapy.
I mean, who knew physiotherapists could be extremely proficient in pain management, mental health, hippotherapy, cardiopulmonary care, ergonomics and women and men’s health.
The plethora of practice areas became more apparent with each placement and module.
Nevertheless, the most awe-inspiring experience was having a visiting lecturer from the USA who taught wound care.
My thoughts were, ‘Seriously, wound care and physiotherapy! How?’.
I began to imagine how important physiotherapy would be for traumatic sports injuries, orthopedics and the list went on and on.
I am still very grateful for this class because it increased my respect for physiotherapy practice.
Even though wound care is not in the scope of practice in the United Kingdom, I am happy that aspiring and practicing physiotherapists have a wealth of opportunities and can explore the scope of practice in several countries.
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Deciding On A Specialism
I felt like I blinked, and it was only a few months to the end of my Master’s program which came with the most popular question, “What next?”.
As you can imagine, I was like a child in an ice cream and waffle shop with all the options and a serious decision to make.
Although I was still interested in sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapy, I wondered why I had to limit myself to one area of practice.
I had fallen in love with respiratory care and was intrigued by pelvic health, stress management and occupational health.
Also, I knew I had to understand the neuromuscular system to excel in daily practice so what was I going to do?
My question was answered after attending my elective/final placement.
I cared for patients with a variety of sports, orthopedic, cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular and medico-legal and occupational health conditions under the supervision of a senior physiotherapist.
This made me happy because I was exposed to treating several conditions which challenged me constantly.
I am sure you can imagine my excitement when I was offered a job after my placement was completed.
My Evolving Physiotherapy Career
I currently work in triage and case management while continuing a role in outpatient musculoskeletal physiotherapy and occupational health.
However, would it surprise you that I completed a doctorate in physical therapy with research in digital rehabilitation?
Well, from December 2019, I officially joined the “Dr Group” and laugh even harder when I hear Bugs Bunny’s “What’s up doc?”.
I am still getting used to being called Dr Anita by colleagues, patients and family but it really shows me how far I have come.
Also, writing and reading this article has given me a greater appreciation of the journey from my first impressions to present day practice.
I can see how my chosen path has prepared me to manage a career within and between areas of practice.
I intend to remain a student of the art and science of physiotherapy practice.
As I often say, “when the moment comes that I can no longer learn in physiotherapy practice, it means it is time to retire”.
I also intend to keep engaging with the news because my father was right.
It definitely helps me have a conversation with a wide range of people.
I look forward to him smiling when he reads this with you all.
I hope my story encourages you to be explorative, surround yourself with positive and supportive people and be grateful throughout your journey.
Let me know in the comments your thoughts on Physiotherapy and if it's a career you would like to pursue - let's chat there!
Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!