By Saran, BSc Physiotherapy alum.
Saran tells us how UWE Bristol helped her to achieve her dream of becoming a physiotherapist. She shares the challenges she’s faced while pursuing this dream, as well as her favourite part of the course – her Erasmus placement.
My physiotherapy journey
It’s always been my dream to become a physiotherapist. I was told in school I’d never make it as a physio, but I was prepared to overcome any barrier. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
When I first applied for physiotherapy courses, I was unsuccessful. However, I was offered a place at a university to study sport conditioning rehabilitation and massage, which was a great stepping stone. After graduating with first class honours, I wanted to reapply for physiotherapy.
I got a job as a physiotherapy technician to enhance my application. I worked in this role for almost two years, which gave me valuable experience working in the NHS. All the hard work paid off, as I eventually got my place to study physiotherapy at university.
I was determined to become a physiotherapist and I applied 3 times before I received a successful application. I’ve just been offered my first job as a physiotherapist in the NHS, so I’m really glad I persevered. After 8 years and 2 degrees, I’ve finally achieved my dream.
“I can’t thank UWE Bristol enough for their support over the past 3 years.”
Why I chose UWE Bristol
In the end, my physio application was accepted by UWE Bristol and 4 other universities. There were a number of reasons I chose UWE Bristol. One of the main factors was the balance of practical exams vs coursework (essays) on the physiotherapy course. There was a good amount of practical work for me, as I believed that was more a strength of mine compared to writing essays.
I was also really interested in the Erasmus programme, as I wanted to study abroad for a period of time. The course gave me the opportunity to study abroad and complete a placement in another country. Bristol was a perfect location for me too, as it’s within close proximity of my hometown in Wales.
I’m so glad I chose UWE Bristol. On my course, I met a lot of mature students like myself. They started off studying sports therapy and then progressed to studying physiotherapy, just like I did. A lot of students in my academic group had similar experiences to me and we formed such a close bond.
There was a well-balanced mix of students from different backgrounds, so we could all learn from each other’s experiences. The staff were also supportive, especially my academic personal tutor who supported me through personal and academic challenges.
My highlights of the physiotherapy course
As part of the course, we had to complete 1000 hours of clinical placement, which was roughly 6 x 5-week placements. My placements ranged from neurological physio for adults and children with learning disabilities, to medical physio on respiratory, cardiac and gastro wards. I gained useful industry contacts while on placement, and I even gained a job reference.
My favourite part of the course was the opportunity to complete 2 clinical placements in Rovaniemi, Finland (Lapland). One placement was in an assessment and treatment centre for adults and children with neurological and learning disabilities. This was very challenging as this population were unable to speak English. But my educators were amazing – they taught me Finnish sign language to be able to communicate with the patients.
The physiotherapy sessions were much more than a treatment. They were an opportunity to make the patients laugh, smile and experience a different environment to their usual sensory room. One patient in particular reminded me of how much good physiotherapists can do, which was so rewarding.
“UWE Bristol provided me with amazing support and I even did two clinical placements in Finland through Erasmus. It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.”
My advice to aspiring physiotherapists
I’ve recently been offered a rotational physiotherapy job in a local NHS trust. This involves rotating every 4 months to a different discipline and location within the health board. As well as gaining experience in new areas, such as ICU, I’ll also complete on call training and weekend working training.
My message to future students is to never give up on your dream. If you want something enough you can make it happen, so always believe in yourself. Ask questions and ask for help when you’re unsure. Respond positively and actively to feedback on placements and ask for feedback on occasion to show you’re willing to learn.