Skeleton with outstretched upper limb

Finishing the First Year!

Forgive me readers, for my extended absence. It’s been one essay, one exam, and two vivas since my last blog post. Like the rest of my course-mates, I had to dig in deep for the final, seemingly insurmountable, stretch of my first year and have, since the last assessment, been enjoying a couple of weeks of much needed R&R. Now, as the dust settles, I’ve finally got the time and head space to give a final round up of the last semester and set out how I felt when finishing the first year of a physiotherapy degree.

Was it really that hard? Well, yes. In the midst of it all, I suffered from incredible self-doubt. I felt my ability to recall facts diminish, to carry out practical techniques flounder, to look forward to the examinations with anything other than trepidation impossible. But all the hard work paid off and I made it through, just as our tutors told us we would. The take away point is that anything worthwhile is always going to seem challenging. I am invested in doing well during this course and so put added pressure on myself, as I know my class-mates do also. While it’s hard to not focus on the negatives during exam season, I think I have learned that assessment is just one aspect of our training, and to have faith in the fact that our tutors have faith in us.

Joint trouble.

I must say, I didn’t greet the second semester with the gusto I had reserved for my very first days on the degree back in September. By the time it started, I’d heard horror stories of its difficulty – rumours and whispers from second and third years, passed on to other members of my year. These murmurings did not fill me with joy. Where semester one had focussed on the lower extremity, semester two introduced us to the upper limb and it seemed we spent weeks trying to fathom the intricacies of the scapulothoracic and gleno-humeral joints and their roles in producing fine movement. At the same time we continued with our exercise therapy module and, with the looming prospect of impending exams for two modules instead of one, the learning felt harried and the doubt increased. I think we complained incessantly about the complexity of the shoulder and the limited time we felt we had on it. In retrospect, more time would have only increased our worry and stress. We were just unable to see how much we were comprehending.

Taking heart.

Now that the first year is complete, thoughts naturally turn to the second year and I have again heard from various sources that it is much more difficult than what has just come. I hope I can hold on to how semester two felt at times, and realise that everything new seems impossibly complex at first. I definitely lost sight of that over the last few months, but as my course-mates and I have shown, if you put the work in – really put it in – the assessments will reflect that.

If you’re currently studying, or planning to study, you’re going to feel down about it sometimes. You’ll resent not being able to see friends or family as much as you’d like. If you’re a mature student, like me, you’ll feel the pinch, financially. You’ll get sick of computers. Or practical rooms. Or early morning lectures. Essays will drag. Deadlines will pounce.

And yet, I can only think of the positives.

First year revelations.

The people teaching me are inspiring and motivating. My classmates are so generous with their support and time that it humbles me. I learned amazing things about the human body that make my mind spin. I learned to take pride in work well done, and how to work on the things I struggle with.

I can’t wait for the second year. It’s going to be hard, yes. It’s going to require careful planning. I’m going to have to get a head start. But I’m also going to be out on two placements, and I’ll be introduced to three new modules. It’s going to be amazing.

Good luck to anyone that is starting their first year of study, whether that is in physiotherapy or any other course. Remember to enjoy it and please do let me know how you get on.  As always, you can contact me with any question or comments you may have about my course or studying as a mature student. I’d love to hear from you.

Take care,


Featured image:

Upper skeleton from Andrew Bell’s Anatomia Britannica (1770s-1780s) by University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences. Flickr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons.

Category: Physio Student JourneyPhysiotherapy


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Article by: Vee Uye

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