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Wednesday 17 May 2023 2:42pm

Nathan Cochrane - image
Nathan Cochrane went against the grain when he picked a rural practice, but the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Building connections and studying in a city he felt at home in encouraged Christchurch local Nathan Cochrane to pursue a rural posting after his physiotherapy studies at University of Otago's Dunedin campus.

Otago was not the obvious choice for Nathan as he is originally from Christchurch. However, he was confident he wanted to pursue his dream of being a physiotherapist at a university with a “well-structured curriculum” and one he could “confidently call home”.

Dunedin ticked all the boxes he says, adding that his first three years of study helped establish the important knowledge he would need for his fourth-year placements. During each part of the learning journey, he made connections and friendships with like-minded people that enriched the experience and motivated him to keep working hard.

This motivation extended into his decision to take up physiotherapy practice outside of a major city and in the rural area of Leeston, about an hour south of Christchurch.

“I was initially hesitant about working rurally as I thought I might feel isolated,” Nathan says.

“I felt like I was making a noticeably different choice to most of my other classmates who had decided to take up jobs in more urbanised areas.

“However, I held fast to my decision and very quickly realised I had made the right choice. The staff at Leeston Physiotherapy, which is where I am working, are fantastic and consistently give me a great deal of support.

“My worries about being isolated shifted as the town locals are great, very appreciative to have physios in town, and love bantered conversation.”

Studying physiotherapy at the University of Otago was “an experience like no other”, according to Nathan, who graduates this month.

“There have been both highs and lows, but the good times have far outweighed the bad,” Nathan says.

“Whether it was the stress of uni work, maintaining healthy social and physical fitness, or trying to keep warm through the winter, there was always something keeping me on my toes, but the unique culture and comradery meant that I always had heaps of support.

“That's really the beauty about studying at Otago - so many of my mates were having the same struggles and so we banded together, working through challenges as a team.”

As he enters this next exciting chapter in his life, Nathan's advice to prospective students is to “go for it”.

“Otago is the ultimate work hard, play hard environment and I look back on my time there knowing that not only have I attained my dream profession, but I have also developed friendships and memories which will last a lifetime.

“Your time with Otago will fly by just like mine has, something a person doesn't realise when they're studying, and then you're going to miss it. So, get out there and amongst it, appreciating the people around you, and always backing yourself.”

- Kōrero by the Health Sciences Communications Adviser, Kelsey Schutte.

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