Week 1 Complete!
I know a lot of people reading this will be attending open days, writing UCAS statements, and securing shadowing experiences in preparation for applying to a physiotherapy degree, like I was this time last year. The purpose of this blog is to help those applicants – particularly those who have returned to study after a break – understand what the course is like on a week by week basis, and what the particular challenges to entry I found as a mature student with a non-science background. I hope it helps!
Our Year 1 tutor, Dr Stuart Porter, gave us some helpful advice in induction week. We have to take each week as it comes – eating one burger at a time – until we’ve consumed the whole elephant. I think that’s the way we will survive this. Now we can say, at the end of Week 1, we’ve eaten our first elephant burger! Here are a few words from my classmates on how they are feeling so far:
After week 1, I am still feeling out of my depth, but relieved to have the level of support available from the staff and also you guys! – Sam
Big complicated words! – Emma
I’m still feeling VERY excited!! Also slightly scared about the amount of work we can expect! Constantly still asking myself, is physio a language just like French or Spanish? Because that’s exactly how it seems at the moment!!! – Faye
I’m deffo enjoying the course so far.. Everyone is really nice and helpful and there is tonnes of support if needed.. But yeah you need to be prepared for the constant barrage of long complicated words .. I think ‘anterior superior iliac spine’ on day one sums it up! – Ricki
Big words bigger characters and huge support! Made my 1st week enjoyable and hard work all at once! – Natalie
As you can tell, we are feeling the strain of the course, but I haven’t seen anyone stop smiling yet. And the support has been truly fantastic from lecturers and fellow students. It is normal to be feeling like this.
The weeks on our physiotherapy degree are structured so that we are in all day Monday, Thursday and Friday. On these days we are in from 9 or 10am to 4 or 5pm with back to back sessions. If you’re like me, you’ll have or want to get a part-time job while you study. This schedule makes it ideal as I can work on one or both of the midweek days off. However, I have found that the workload of the degree is going to mean that if I am working on those days, I have to be very organised with my university workload in order to not fall behind. The ideal situation would be not to work. If you can survive on you NHS bursary and Student Loan, savings, or support from partner/family, my advice would be to do so – you’ll have so much more time to get your studying in. For the meantime, I will continue to juggle the two and update any changes that may occur as we go along.
The work came thick and fast in Week 1, there’s no denying that. You must get used to the idea that you’ll need to carefully prepare for each session.
In my first degree, there was obviously elements of self-directed study. We had to read certain books or papers in order to be able to discuss them. There seems so much more of it on the physiotherapy degree, to the extent that quite a lot of us got together on Wednesday (me for a few hours before work) to go over what we had been given and lend each other some support. I hadn’t expected we would need to be doing that in the first week, but it was vital. It is also testament to the close bond we are forming in our year that we felt we could support each other like that.
The main thrust of the learning in this first week focused on the hip. We learned the bony points of the hip and thigh, the muscles, tendons and ligaments, and the movements these enabled. We learnt these verbally – a whole new language of names and terminology – and visually from our books. We also learned how to feel – or palpate – these on ourselves and on each other in the practical sessions we had that accompanied all of our lectures. We are moving on quite quickly from our taught sessions on the hip as there is so much anatomy to pack in. This means that we need to be revisiting this learning on our own, whatever chance we get, in order to lock it in.
Those of you who live with family or partners – get them to prepare to be your models. They will be sick of you trying to determine the landscape of their legs in no time. But hey, that’s love, right?
There’s been a lot to do this week. It’s been intense and a big change in style from anything that I have learned before. But the lecturers and other students are so supportive that it feels manageable right now. I fear slipping behind, but I hope I can put mechanisms in place to prevent that. My number one strategy is to stay organized and focused. I will say though that as hard as it is, I’ve never had so much fun learning! It’s difficult to remember all of the many muscles of the hip, sure, but it’s fascinating to start understanding how my body works. The names are difficult but I love words, and I am starting to see patterns in the medical terminology. It’s like learning a new language. My point is, its hard work, but the rare kind of hard work that is enjoyable and satisfying.
In other course related news, my Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS) certificate came through on Friday. This is a check that is carried out to make sure that you are not barred from working with children or adults. You need to provide evidence of your identity and any criminal cautions or records you may have. It was drilled into us that just having a police record may not bar you from studying and qualifying as a physiotherapist – but you must not conceal the fact that you have something to declare as it will show up and then your integrity will be called into question. So be thorough and honest and you will be ok. It took about two weeks from sending off all of my information and receiving my certificate so please factor this into your timescales. We have been assured that under no circumstances will we be able to go out on placement without this essential certificate. You will see when you receive offers back from university on the UCAS website that a condition of your acceptance onto the course will be satisfactory DBS clearance and an Occupational Health check. Our university scheduled in DBS applications on a compulsory pre-induction day we had to attend in order to get our applications going so please follow your institution’s instructions and don’t leave it until last minute to collect all the evidence you will need.
If there are any questions specific to being a physiotherapy student, the course, or my route on to it that you’d like to ask, please drop me a line on the comments below or feel free to contact me.