Lucy Johnston

Physiotherapy (pre-registration) MSc

View the course
  • Year of study: Year Two
  • Length of course: Two years

Your university/career journey

Why did you decide to study at the University of Northampton?

I’d previously studied BSc Sport Therapy at a different university, but graduating during Covid provided additional challenges to secure a job. I then worked in many different healthcare settings to gain as much as experience as possible, before deciding I wanted to become a physiotherapist and work in the NHS.

At the time I applied, the MSc Physiotherapy course at Northampton was brand new – I liked the sound of the modules and the teaching staff were all friendly and approachable. With the course also having a January and September intake, it meant I could apply and start sooner than other universities that do a similar course.

What are your career goals/aspirations?

I graduate in November 2023, so when I finish, I’ll initially work as a rotational Physiotherapist until I find a discipline that I enjoy the most, then I’ll progress from there.

How do you think your studies will help your career or personal development when you graduate?

This course has given me professional, clinical and theoretical knowledge to work as a Physiotherapist. It’s challenged my academic writing skills and has given me many different aspects to consider when working professionally. For example, we completed a Leading Innovative Change module, which challenges you to think about changing the ways you’re working and how you can create innovative change within settings. This is something I’ll now consciously think about when advancing in my career.

From a personal development side, the course has made me feel more confident with assessing and building rapport with patients and families. Through completing placements and simulation sessions, this has given me hands-on experience, which I know will continue to develop throughout my career.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree do you feel will be most useful in your future career?

You will learn a lot during this course, e.g., anatomy and physiology of cardio, respiratory, neurological and musculoskeletal systems. But on placements, you will put all your theoretical knowledge into practice, so this is where you will really use all that you’ve learnt and you will take a lot away from these experiences.

It must be noted though, you won’t learn everything at university – the physiotherapy profession is so vast and you will continue to learn upon graduating and throughout your career.

Your Placement

Does your course offer a placement?

Yes. To become a Physiotherapist you require 1,000 hours of practical experience, so through this course you will complete five placements in total. These placements are found for you and will vary between the disciplines of Physiotherapy. I’ve completed placements in mental health, acute hospitals, and community and residential settings.

You will have opportunities to shadow qualified therapists, be proactive and take on your own initiative, understand discharge/referral routes and complete many more duties which will be placement dependent.

Please describe how your placements have benefitted you?

Placements have given me an appreciation for the diverse role a Physiotherapist can have. They have shown me how I’ll continue to learn and develop throughout the entirety of my career.

Additionally, they have guided my communication skills, clinical skills and supported me to build professional relationships.

What employability skills did you develop during your placement?

Both clinical and professional skills. It’s been great to get a foot in the door of five different organisations around Northamptonshire to begin networking and understanding the role and scope of a Physiotherapist.

How do you think the placement will help you with gaining employment after graduating?

They have provided me with professional experience and skills such as providing physical examinations, taking patient histories and patient/family communication, as well as professionalism in the Physiotherapy field. Placements are an essential factor to becoming a Physiotherapist and the fact this course offers five separate placements provides you with a greater and more rounded experience of different settings.

Do you have any tips on applying for or getting the most benefit from your placement?

Make communication with your placement educator prior to starting the placement and ask if there is any pre-reading they would recommend to give you a head start. Never be afraid to ask a question and always carry a notebook around with you to write down anything you’re unsure of so you can research it at a later date.

What advice would you give a student about to begin a placement?

Remain open-minded throughout the placement, as each placement will give you a different area to consider and think about. If you don’t enjoy a placement, it will give you a good idea of what sort of role you want to go into once you graduate, so consider each placement like a trial run. All placements are pass or fail, so try your best and consistently ask your educator for feedback so you know which areas you can develop in.

Extra-curricular activities

Do you do any extra-curricular activities at UON?

Yes, I was part of the Netball Club at UON – we trained twice a week and played matches most Wednesdays.

How do you think these extra-curricular activities will enhance your career prospects?

I don’t think playing netball necessarily enhanced my career prospects, however I enjoy playing so it was something I Knew I wanted to get involved in. It helped me to make friends and have a social life outside of my course. The course is very challenging and demanding – there are a lot of deadlines and placement hours to complete, so having something fun to do alongside the course helped to manage my mental health and social needs.

Your Advice

What advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

My tip to gain entry is to gather as much experience as possible before completing the course, whether that be in MSK clinics, first aid for sports teams, therapy assistance in the NHS, or working in private care settings. This will fill you with good opportunities and an understanding of healthcare settings which will go a very long way on completing the course.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

Busy, challenging, learning curve, exciting, fun, tough, sometimes stressful!