This week I was caught off my guard!
I’ve just emerged out of the other side of Week 2 as a physiotherapy student at the University of Salford. I think I can safely say, it caught us all a little off guard. Checking the directed study – work that we’re asked to complete before lessons – over the weekend, it looked as though we didn’t have too much to do compared to the week previous. I certainly took it easy on Saturday and Sunday, and enjoyed not hitting the books for a while, planning to start the required directed study midweek in good time for Thursday when most of it was required for.
Unfortunately, we were set some group on Monday. These were to be quite detailed presentations on the cellular mechanisms of tissue healing, to be completed Thursday. This was a massive shock as we had to organise ourselves outside of class time into our groups and work on a ten-minute presentation that would creatively explain our given subject to the rest of our class.
Those of us with responsibilities outside of the course found it difficult to arrange to meet up at short notice, whereas I think that our younger classmates living on campus found it a bit easier.
In my case, I live 24 miles away and had been scheduled into work at my part-time job on both the Tuesday and the Wednesday. I managed to meet up with my group for a couple of hours on Wednesday evening after work but then had to head out for a swimming lesson on the other side of Manchester. The couple of hours we had together was not enough to go into the detail we were required and so when I finally arrived home – after 11pm at this point – I needed to stay up quite late and finish my part of the presentation. The blurry eyes of a few of my classmates the next morning suggested that other people might have had similar issues. This was all compounded by the fact that the subject matter was quite difficult to get our heads round. We struggled to understand what it was we were having to explain to everybody else.
There is a positive to all this! I’m going to be much more cautious about trying to get things done ahead of time just in case we are set things like this in future, otherwise I will not be able to juggle my part-time job and my studies successfully. Also, the presentation went really well and the process of learning to teach, and watching the other presentations, really helped cement the concepts of tissue healing in my mind. Our topic to present on was the proliferation stage of tissue healing.
In a shout out to the access course I had to complete before attending this degree, I also felt that I had a good grounding of some of the processes involved already, particularly when in the case of phagocytosis (the rendering of noxious cells/substances inert by white blood cells called neutrophils). You can see a couple of neutrophils in the image above surrounded by much smaller erythrocytes, or red blood cells.
Where my access course really shone this week was in my comprehension of the material delivered in lectures on nociception. I instantly recalled a pretty intense assignment on coordination and control of the human body. At the time I despaired! It was itself the cause of many a sleepless night, but now I’m really pleased we were set it because I actually understand quite a lot of the concepts we are being taught now. So, yeah, an access course can be really, really, useful in terms of setting you up for university study.
This week was the first week I have been a bit worried about working alongside studying, so I will be keeping an eye on it. As I get an NHS bursary, and a reduced amount of student loan, I theoretically don’t have to work, especially as my partner is very supportive. However, living off a student income as a 34 year old is a lot different to living off a student income as a 18 year old, and so quitting my job would be a huge financial sacrifice on top of some already quite huge financial sacrifices. I’ll be keeping an eye on my coping levels because, at the end of the day, the degree is the most important thing but I am certainly going to take a bit more time to see how things pan out.
I still think that with proper planning and time management part-time work is more than possible, even alongside an intense degree such as physiotherapy.
As always, 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.
‘Neutrophils in peripheral blood smear’
Spike Walker. Wellcome Images. 2012