International Student POV: Physiotherapy Work Placement

Date 25 April 2023

Gina shares her Care Home placement experience as an International Student, studying Physiotherapy (pre-registration) MSc.

Gina Rezkalla

As an international student studying Physiotherapy (pre-registration) MSc at the University of Northampton, I had the opportunity to go on a placement within a care home here in Northampton. This was a brand-new opportunity that has not yet been explored.

My first initial thought was nerves and uncertainty which comes with any placement opportunities. The experience was an eye opening, with challenges and opportunities, and sometimes both. As a student, I had no experience in going on placement previously, so this meant that I had to take charge and apply the knowledge which my course has prepared me for to my new working environment.

I had to, alongside with a colleague, assess the residents, and make decisions in line with their rehab needs. This was one of the challenging parts of the placement. However, this helped me develop skills set needed to become a well-rounded professional in the field of Physiotherapy.

Some of the challenges faced during my placements was dealing with the older population of people, and especially ones with dementia. A full understanding of what dementia is, was vital for implementing physical activity which was necessary in this setting and as a student, it was my responsibility to tackle and address these. This required a lot of prompting and good communications skills.

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What really stood out during my placement in a care home, was the fast adjustment on how I communicated my plans and my overall approach to fit the profile of the individuals I was working with, as everyone had different needs, wants and interests. For example, I could clearly see how my communication affected the quality of a session, judging by the residents’ motivational level, mood, and overall performance. This emphasised on the importance of good clear communication tone and voice needed in my profession; given that this impacted on any physical activities implemented. Communication was not only vital to the residents but also to the carers and senior staff onsite in the care home.

Understanding the importance of communication meant that, I got to understand what the residents were like from an outsiders’ perspective, which aided me to gain a full picture to personalise my approach to each resident. This meant that a circle of trust and rapport was needed before any kind of work started on their physiotherapy needs.

“A major aspect I enjoyed whilst on this specific placement, is taking full reign of my experience. I had the opportunity of creating my own schedule, writing my own notes, and reflecting on my interactions when needed. This played a considerable role in my own learning, and it helped me ease into being a part of a big team of carers, ones I communicated with daily”

A training session was delivered to educate the carers on how they can assist residents to be more active as well as how they can help them with mobility around the car home in an effective and safe way.

During this experience, I got to understand the importance of teamwork in a care home setting, and this provided me with more insight into the professional field of a physiotherapist.

Overall, this experience has accentuated, to me more than ever, the importance physiotherapist is needed in the space of care homes, for residents to receive full care that they require in their day to day lives.

The experience showed me the ins and outs of what it is like to work as a physiotherapist as opposed to being a student. I am grateful to the University of Northampton for this placement opportunity and urge any student to consider a placement this is offered

For more information on Physiotherapy (pre-registration) MSc, visit the course page.

Gina Rezkalla, Physiotherapy MSc student
Gina Rezkalla

Gina is currently completing her Physiotherapy (re-registration) MSc as an international student. She completed a Bachelor Honours degree in Kinesiology at York University in Toronto, Canada.