How to become a physiotherapist
Physiotherapy is a stimulating and rewarding career. You’ll help people recover from a wide range of health conditions, work to prevent injury, and bring relief to those in pain. If you’ve got your heart set on becoming a physiotherapist, there are a few steps you can take to boost your employability and make sure your dream becomes a reality.
Matthew Anthis’s physiotherapy degree has taken him from the football field to the clinic, with weekends on standby at the river’s edge as a rowing physio. Here’s how Matthew made his degree work for him.
Opt for practical experience and personal attention
For Matthew, getting hands-on with his studies was the highlight of the degree – being deskbound for four years was never on his agenda. “The practical classes enabled the guidance of different treatment techniques,” he said. “I remember going to the local gym with my classmates to make programs for each other and it was great to put what we’d learnt into action.”
Matthew also attributes smaller class sizes and cohorts to his success – and recommends choosing a course where you’ll get one-on-one attention. “At ACU, my lecturers got to know me on a first-name basis and they were extremely helpful,” he recalls. “They put in extra time to help everyone prepare for assessments and they helped me improve my results.”
Make the most of real-world opportunities
Like many of his classmates, Matthew was first drawn to physiotherapy by the opportunity to turn a passion for sport into a career. During his studies he jumped at the chance to work with the Balmain Tigers and Sydney Roosters rugby league clubs.
“I began working with the junior representative teams during my second year,” Matthew said. “With my degree underway, my job involved helping with sideline and initial management injuries. My work increased over the years, so by my third and fourth years of study, I was compiling injury lists and developing return-to-play plans. This led to additional opportunities working with the Wyong Roos football club, which coincided with a university placement I organised in the same area.”
Try different elements of the profession
Leaving the football field behind for now, Matthew is currently working full-time in a Sydney physio clinic. “I treat patients of all ages for an array of musculoskeletal injuries. I never know who will come through the door,” he said. “I also regularly work with orthopaedic surgeons, helping their patients by removing casts, fitting special boots and braces and helping them walk after knee and hip operations.”
While a clinic setting might seem tame compared to helping athletes on the sidelines, Matthew couldn’t be happier with where his physio career has taken him. “The most enjoyable thing about working at the clinic is the variety – no two days are the same and I am constantly learning about new treatments and techniques,” he said.
However Matthew’s passion for sport and supporting athletes hasn’t stopped in spite of his clinic role, and he now spends his weekends by a riverbank working as a rowing physiotherapist.
“Working in an endurance sport is quite different to rugby in that there are less acute injuries and there are more opportunities for treatment on race day,” he explained. “I am constantly making assessments and troubleshooting treatment techniques and areas to make sure the rowers are comfortable at different phases of the stroke cycle and can perform at their best.”
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