All brand new: First Physiotherapy students praise great course and good fortune
Higher Education might be quieter because of the pandemic, but students on a new University of Northampton (UON) degree are shouting loudly about their course.
Physiotherapy is a pre-registration, Master’s degree for graduates in relevant health and sports subjects. This January saw UON’s first cohort start on their way to new careers, with one student even commuting from Essex.
Physiotherapy is an allied health profession which aims to restore, maintain and promote physical function with a range of physical methods.
The creation of the degree meant another first-off addition to Waterside campus – a bespoke physiotherapy teaching space.
Here, students develop their critical thinking and an evidence-based approach and practical application of the theory, assessment and interventions that underpin physiotherapy.
The fully-kitted out room includes 12 examination plinths (out-patient ‘beds’), rehab equipment – such as gym balls, step boxes and therabands – and physio-specific mannequins. Students also spend time in the various UON simulation areas, such as the nursing ‘ward’.
Pandemic restrictions mean the inaugural students can’t physically practise on service users so instead, they role-play with each other as patient and therapist. Service users are still involved with their learning, joining them for virtual sessions.
Placements on offer include acute and mental health hospitals, community trusts (allowing students to work with patients in their homes), specialist paediatric settings and sports clubs.
Daniel Donnelly is one of the fresh-faced physio newbies. He was so determined to join the course he commutes from Colchester to Northampton, a return drive of more than four hours (in favourable traffic).
He explains why UON was for him: “I’ve worked in multiple fields such as Rugby and as a swimming coach and teacher, working with many diverse individuals.
“Northampton is a distance from Essex, but I was looking around for MSc programmes and spotted the degree here. I met with the tutors and they were so forward-thinking and welcoming I felt I could take the plunge with UON.
“Many perceive physios as working in sport or with people with muscular problems, but I can already see how the UON degree will prepare me for much wider work. The modules are designed to make sure you can work with people with other, complex problems and that’s really interesting for me.”
Classmate Nadira Sampson’s commute is rather shorter as she lives in Northampton. Studying Physiotherapy at UON was something that almost never happened, as she was just about to give up on finding the perfect course.
She adds: “I was running my own sports therapy business until Covid restrictions started. I looked at MSc physiotherapy courses to develop myself, but they were all too far away.
“On the day I said would be my last for applications, my partner told me to have one more look. So, I did and that was when I saw the UON course. I called them and was so excited about what I talked about I applied straight away. It was so meant to be!”
At 22 Kieran Jessop, from Newark in Nottinghamshire, is one of the younger members of the cohort. He’s just gained a First-Class Honours degree in Sports Therapy and, like Dan, looked outside of his home county for the right, next professional step.
He says: “I’ve always been into sport and the biology and human anatomy side of that. After graduating, I really wanted to go down the physiotherapy route.
“University of Northampton stood out to me because it is a new campus and the physiotherapy modules on offer and the experience you look set to gain really enticed me. In my past, I experienced challenges with complex patient scenarios, so the fact UON’s course offers a module about this was perfect. I know it will help me grow as a person and a physiotherapist.”
Rounding off a month of newness for Physiotherapy is Lecturer Hayley Walker, who also joined the University in January. She concludes: “I’d like to say an official welcome to all of our first Physiotherapy students. It’s also great to be here right from our degree’s start – everything about it is so contemporary, particularly with our lecturers being out in practice we can be confident we’re bringing our students the latest knowledge from research, literature and legislations.
“Our students get a really broad overview of what’s happening in the world right now and will experience and learn not only how they can react and engage with that, but also how they can shape and change that for the future as well. It’s a really exciting thing to be a part of.”