Well I made it! I’m in!
It’s not official until both my DBS and Occupational Health screenings have come back – and I’ll chat more about those individually in a future post – but as of this week (Physiotherapy BSc induction week!) I am to all intents and purposes a 1st year undergraduate physiotherapy student at the University of Salford.
This week has been pretty intense. It’s consisted of a lot of sitting and listening to our Year One Tutor Dr. Stuart Porter disseminate all the necessary information we need before we can start the learning in earnest next week. Stuart has been doing a great job of making it interesting. Luckily for us he is a funny and interesting guy with a bottomless pit of entertaining and/or informative stories from his many years of teaching and practice and so this week has gone by quite quickly. This doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot a forms to fill out and boxes to tick.
Compared to my first degree (English at MMU), we’ve already been given tonnes more information about procedures, conduct and behaviour, and professionalism. It’s obvious why – we’ll be in contact with vulnerable people and we also hope to gain professional employment at the end of our degrees – but it feels realer somehow this week.
One of the big worries I had before embarking on this career change was that I’d be the oldest in my class. One of the great things about this first week as a physiotherapy student is that a good chunk of my class seem to be around my age. I am 34 currently, and I’m not the oldest by a few years. Even if I were the oldest, that wouldn’t be a problem. The admissions team seem to have intentionally selected a mixed bunch of ages; they very obviously place life and alternate experience as highly as formal qualifications during the selection process. Don’t get me wrong, you need the grades too but I certainly don’t feel that any of the mature students were at a disadvantage compared to the people on our degree that came fresh after finishing their A-levels. I didn’t get the same vibe from other universities I interviewed at, at least not to the same extent. Yet more validation that Salford is the place for me!
It’s only been a a week but our class already seems to be bonding really well. Everyone is really friendly, warm, and welcoming to one another.
I think it helped that somebody had the foresight to set up a closed Facebook group just after we started getting offers through. This means we know enough about each other already to start and maintain some conversations. I can’t recommend this enough! Just one of the ways that technology and social media has changed the university experience since I first did a degree, back in 2001 (when the internet looked like this and Facebook was still a dream!).
After four days of form filling (necessary but not the most exciting activity in the world), the last day of induction week was a whole different ball game. We got a taste what we all came here for: we started learning some anatomy. We’d been told all week to bring shorts so we had an idea that we’d be modelling for each other, and after some preliminary work on how to interact with patients we set about trying to find some bony points in the hip and thigh, using each other as models and drawing our discoveries in non-permanent marker on each other’s skin.
I’ve got to say, this practical doubled as an awesome icebreaker. Locating the ischial tuberosities (the bony bits, we learned, that you can feel in your bottom if you sit on your hands) on someone like me – perhaps a little more round of bottom than most – requires a level of ease with each other that I wouldn’t have thought we possessed as of yet. But I was wrong, everyone got into the exercise and I think it’s fair to say that we have started to shed the shyness we have with each other. It was explained that we need to practice on a variety of body types as bodies vary between genders and between individuals. I imagine when we are let loose on the public as qualified physiotherapists, no two patients will be the same so this was an excellent opportunity to get to grips with that reality.
The practical really was a world away from the pre-reading I’ve been doing. It can be hard to visualise the 3D nature of bones when you’re reading from a page, or that this muscle or that layer of fat will mask what it is your are trying to make sense of. Feeling – palpating from now on – the bony points on the hip as we did today made things make sense in my head. I can already tell practicals will be my favourite kind of lesson.
And that’s it! Week one zero done and dusted. One of the reasons I’m blogging about my experience on the course is because I couldn’t find a lot of information from current or past physiotherapy students online when I looked. I hope this is useful to people in the same position. Please let me know what you want to know more about (or what you’d like me to shut up about!) by leaving a comment or sending me a message on the contact form.
See you after Week 1!