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Hear from Patricia Costello a recent MSc Physiotherapy graduate

What did you want to do career wise when you started at UEA – did you know?

In February 2013, I relocated to Norwich to pursue a career in physiotherapy by undertake the MSc Physiotherapy (pre-registration) course.

How did you get to where you are now? Was there anything that particularly helped?

Having grown up in a family of healthcare professionals I had spent considerable time working and observing patient care within many clinical surroundings. This experience aided in my appreciation of how improving an individual’s standard of living and wellbeing, be it post-trauma or as a result of an inherent disability or illness, is vital. To better my understanding of the recovery process, I chose to initially undertake a BSc specialising in Physiology from the National University of Ireland Galway. Although understanding that the recovery process can be protracted, with the physiotherapist playing an integral part in improving and restoring the capabilities of each individual, I thus chose to forge my career in the field of Physiotherapy. 

‘The best thing about my PG course is…’

One of the best things about this course is its enquiry based learning foundation where continued emphasis is placed on developing and challenging your clinical reasoning. As clinical reasoning is central to effective, efficient clinical practice and professional autonomy it is fundamental to establish an effective approach from the outset. Health professionals are accountable for their decisions and service provision to various stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, health sector managers, policymakers and colleagues. An important aspect of this accountability is the ability to clearly articulate and justify management decisions in a manner appropriate to the audience. However, clinical reasoning is not a skill that can be simply explained, understood and recalled. This is because of its rapid, complex and often subconscious nature. Therefore, while studying on this course, uncovering some of the practice knowledge that informs the communication of clinical reasoning is valuable for health professional practice, development and education.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my overall result in both practice placement and academic results.

How has studying the course helped your career/or will help your career?

This course has successfully allowed me forge my career in a path to which I have always strove to be part of.  

How do you think this course will set you apart from future colleagues?

The MSc Physiotherapy programme adopts an enquiry-based learning ethos focused on student-centred independent learning, problem solving and decision making. Over the two years their continues to be an evolving level of complexity; from engaging with straightforward case scenarios that develop baseline theoretical and therapeutic understandings, through to complex scenarios addressing service development needs. This process I believe gives students the added benefit in having the ability to independently seek their own learning to improve their professional development. Students establish the ability to effectively interpret and evaluate research to assist in ensuring continued evidence based practice in establishing the best treatment approach for each patient.

Where are you heading next?

As I am still unsure of the specific area to which I want to specialise, once graduated I am hoping to start on a Band 5 rotation.

Have you taken any other qualifications?

I have previously studied a BSc Physiology at the National University of Ireland Galway. Following its completion, I immediately started on the MSc Physiotherapy course at the UEA.

Do you have any top tips for prospective PG students?

Although enjoyable, the professional requirements ensure that this is a very intensive MSc course. Therefore establishing s few strategies both prior to commencing and during the course may help in preparing you for the two year programme:

  • Try to establish a basic working knowledge of anatomy and physiology prior to commencing the course.
  • Make sure you have an idea of transferable skills from your undergraduate studies which relate to Physiotherapy.
  • As students are coming from a variety of backgrounds each comes with their own strengthens and weaknesses. It is therefore important that facilitation of each other’s learning through peer support and study sessions are established early on. This will help in establishing a common foundation from which you all can build as well as reinforcing what you may already know.
  • Don’t let things accumulate. As this is a very fast paced course it is fundamental that you establish a routine and remain proactive in maintaining a good work ethic and pace throughout the course.
  • Be open to opportunities from the start and keep in mind your CPD portfolio.
  • Maintain good lines of communication with personal advisors, lectures and clinical educators. They will help in disseminating any problems you may have throughout the course.
  • Make us of the Student Support Service and Careers office when necessary for help with essays and careers advice.

AND REMEMBER

  • UEA's diverse student body creates a very unique and welcoming atmosphere. Therefore spend time getting to know what's going on around campus, join some societies, make the most of the beautiful lake and explore Norwich city.

What do you think was distinctive about your UEA experience?

Physiotherapists work with people of all ages - individuals and groups - and are essential members of interdisciplinary and inter agency teams. Therefore the strength of the programme I believe lies in its shared learning ethos between physiotherapy and occupational therapy students, which reflects the importance of interdisciplinary working. Students are given the opportunity to practice such skills during the 29 weeks of placement experience in different core areas of physiotherapy practice, across acute, primary / intermediate care, and role emerging contexts experiencing the type of work they will be required to carry out on qualification.

In essence the UEA and more specifically the School of Health Sciences can offer so much outside of its brilliant academic reputation; all of which will undoubtedly make your time at UEA unforgettable.