I chose my degree in physiotherapy after my previous degree lead me to a path I realised I didn’t want to go down. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the career path I almost stayed in, I realised my main desire was to help people. After considering all of my options and narrowing down to either nursing or physiotherapy, I undertook some work experience which helped me to pick physiotherapy as my final choice.
When I look back on the knowledge I had of physiotherapy at the time of my interviews, I realise how little I really understood of everything this career entails! But I wouldn’t change it for the world, and the more I’ve spent learning the more I’ve realised that I’ve landed on my feet and found something that I’m genuinely passionate about, and it makes me happy.
It’s a challenging degree, I’m not going to lie. The contact hours are longer than most. They feel particularly long for me - I did an arts-based degree before, which are known for being very independently led. In my final year I was taught just two hours a week! But in some ways having more contact hours in Physiotherapy is a really good thing, as I’ve spent these past three years really getting to know my course mates and felt like my time was being used in a worthwhile manner. Each full day of learning about anatomy, neurology, cardiovascular respiratory, musculoskeletal teaching (and more!) made me come away from the session feeling like I was one step closer to becoming a professional. It made the essays, exams (both practical and written) and reading outside of lectures feel like they had a purpose. We also spent most of our time in the clinical skills suite, which felt immediately like we were close to becoming clinicians. We’ve never had the ‘grand lecture’ experience which I had in my previous degree, and which never suited my learning style in the first place. Our course is small – my year is made up of 27 people – which meant that the classroom style of teaching allowed us to get closer to the lecturers, ask questions without intimidation and to work in groups and learn from each other more easily.
In addition to university studies, a huge part of my degree has included clinical placements. We’re so lucky in Leeds to have such a huge variety of clinical settings in one of the largest teaching hospital trusts in Europe. From paediatrics to elderly, to complex rehabilitation wards, sports settings, ICU and other critical care settings and specialisms such as hands and plastics or major trauma centres – the variety of placements has meant that every single one of us has found a passion for a specialty or experience, and learnt more about our clinical styles and who we will be as future physiotherapists. The NHS trust is so used to training students, so the support you’re offered is outstanding – both within hospitals and the community, and from the university too.
It’s tough, definitely – there can be times when you’re studying for assignments on top of effectively working full time at placements. It’s also challenging spending five weeks in one area and then switching to another – just when you’ve found your feet in one place, you’re starting again in a different one! But I’ve found that Leeds Beckett focus so much on giving us the widest range of placements in order to give us a well-rounded portfolio of experience. We all started this degree with an idea in our head of what area we wanted to go into, and quite a few of us have found something that we’ve surprised ourselves by loving even more, which is really cool!
The good thing about this career is that it can literally take you anywhere. Physiotherapists are so in demand and work in the most surprising places – I had no idea about half of the areas until I started studying here. The career itself is so diverse and I’ve never met a physiotherapist who isn’t proud of their job. The lecturers create a passion in you as they teach; they give us insight into who we want to become when we graduate. The level of support they’ve given us and how close we’ve got to them and each other has been incomparable. I can’t thank them enough for making me excited to start work and see where I end up.
For now, I’m starting work as a rotational band 5 physiotherapist this summer, which will allow me to experience even more specialties and give me a further understanding into the breadth of this job, before I hone my skills and specialise in my chosen area. I do think I will continue in academia in future, and hope one day that I might end up teaching physiotherapy at university in order to pay back a part of the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have here at Leeds.
If you’re thinking about doing this career – then this is a sign for you. Do it, you’ll have absolutely no regrets.