It’s quite a long way from the emergency clinic at Cardrona skifield in Central Otago to a packed classroom, yet Dunedin physio Chris Higgs has enjoyed each step of that journey.
Chris is a graduate of the physiotherapy programme at the University of Nottingham in the UK and headed for New Zealand in part because of his enthusiasm for outdoor adventure sport and endurance racing. Being a man who prefers to work with people rather than paper, Chris chose his profession wisely and for some years was able to live his original dream, working as a physiotherapist focused on outdoor sports while finding time to explore the back-country around Wanaka.
Now as a professional practice fellow at the School in Dunedin Chris works as ‘Clinical Education Programme Lead’ which puts his work squarely in the framework of physiotherapy clinical education. He co-ordinates teams of clinical educators who work with fourth year students in placements from Invercargill to the Hawkes Bay, and second and third year students in Dunedin. It is a demanding role but one that he finds intensely interesting and rewarding. “No day is quite the same as the one before” says Chris.
With an eye to the future of physiotherapy in New Zealand, Chris believes that students must be prepared for and exposed to the widest spread of possible clinical scenarios as early as possible in their careers. His own professional practice is concentrated on rehabilitation of patients with NCD’s including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. This work aligns with the new curriculum currently being developed at Otago in order to respond effectively to the health needs of a rapidly changing and aging population.
More and more opportunities present for the sensitive professional having helpful conversations about self-management with patients with multiple NCD’s. Chris has a particular interest in motivational interviewing and enjoys working with patients to equip them with manageable skills for greater self - care and the essential motivation needed to integrate these ideas into everyday life.
Chris is playing a critical part in training a new generation of physiotherapists to be more empathetic, more capable and even more effective. The School of Physiotherapy at Otago shares this compelling vision.
More about Chris
Find more about the School's classes for patients with NCD’s including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes - Dunedin Community Exercise Programme