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Student news and events

Waimate meets Washington DC

physio_UG student bridget rollinson_at UN 2018Otago physiotherapy undergraduate student Bridget Rollinson grew up in the small South Canterbury farming town of Waimate.

Earlier this year she joined a “UN Youth US Leadership Tour” to the United States travelling to San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York City, Boston and Honolulu.

She was also one of a group of 13 tertiary students who competed at the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN).

They were to meet each day with a variety of NGO’s, governmental organizations, diplomats and interest groups. Meetings in each city shared similar themes. In San Francisco, they met with representatives of Google, Facebook, Uber and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. In Washington D.C they toured the Library of Congress, Capitol Hill and NASA headquarters and met with state officials. In New York City, home to UN headquarters, Bridget spent a little time with third in command of the UN (and a Kiwi) Jan Beagle. Then it was time for the team to polish their debating skills and knowledge of foreign affairs in preparation for HNMUN in Boston.

Model United Nations events take place at both secondary and tertiary levels, and involve student teams acting as an ‘other’ country, to research and represent their case in a mock UN format. Each team also engages in role plays which involve a specific UN committee and special policy area. They aim to represent the position of a delegated country in this domain.

“There is nothing like spending 5 weeks in the US to make you
appreciate how great life is here in New Zealand. And there is nothing like taking a good look at the inside of politics to make you reconsider your interest in it …”

For HNMUN, Bridget joined the Committee for the Commission of the Status of Women. She relished hearing strong articulate women's voices advocating for women’s rights in all nations.

Bridget says that while the trip gave her an incredible opportunity for many kinds of learning, two memories stand out. She felt outside of her comfort zone in the company of students of law and politics, and yet when it came to working in a team, Bridget's knowledge and experiences of physiotherapy meant that she was able to offer a unique perspective.

She also gained insights from hearing first-hand about some of the difficulties faced by a group of Venezuelan students and their experiences of an education system under financial pressure. It gave Bridget a fuller appreciation of the opportunities, relative accessibility and quality of education in her home country New Zealand.

Report from Relay for Life 2018

On the 17th March over 40 Physiotherapy students took part in the annual Relay for Life at the Caledonian Grounds in Dunedin.

physio_student news relay event team @418 pixels. 2018"For 24 hours our students walked around the track for one sole reason: to help fund cancer care.
We got together to show our support for both those who have been affected by cancer and those who are currently battling the disease.

It was amazing to see the determination and courage shown by all our student’s, however two of our team - Simon Morbey and Riley Henley walked for the entire 24 hours with almost no breaks. which means that (alongside some others), they completed the equivalent distance of more than 2 whole Marathons.

It was a big challenge but nothing compared to the challenges that cancer patients and their families face each day. Our team raised over $5,200 for the Cancer Society which made all of us quite proud.

It was a fantastic weekend's work for very good cause!"

Sherry Malik, PSA President

Welcome to the physio family

Early each year, third year physiotherapy students stage an orientation camp, helping slightly newer physios have some fun and get to know each other.

physio_Camp  human pyramid 2018

"On Thursday, the 15th February our annual orientation camp was held at the local Brighton Rugby Club just south of Dunedin City.

About 85 second-year students attended the camp, alongside 24 eager and excited third years. As third-year students we all loved our own camp, so we wanted to make it just as enjoyable for all the new aspiring Physiotherapists. They were shy and quiet at first, as expected when chucked into a sea of 80 other unfamiliar faces. Nevertheless, that is why we believe camp is such an important time for these students. It gives them an opportunity to get to know each other before walking into that overwhelming first 8 am lecture.

physio_Camp 2018 sherry and hannah

Our camp was jam-packed with all sorts of activities. The second years were split into groups all led by 2 third year leaders. The leaders decided on a costume that the second years had to wear for the entirety of the camp- or so they thought! Some of these costumes were hilarious. In these teams, they competed against each other in a quiz, sports, some outrageous relays, speed dating, and made sand castles that proved to show a lot of teamwork! It was brilliant to see them come out of their shells.
Their confidence flourished in one of the favourite activities - the skits. The skits are usually based on embarrassing stories from the third years which is always a crowd pleaser and this year was no exception.

physio_camp group shot 2018

As the second day came along the shyness began to disappear and our second years were getting on like a house on fire.

The group varied tremendously. Some had already completed a degree, some were international students, and the majority were straight out of first-year health science. Health Science is a tough course and so is Physiotherapy, but there is a completely different atmosphere. There is no competitive factor involved, instead, everyone wants to help each other. You spend so much time with everyone in your labs and lectures that you start to realise very early on that Physiotherapy is really just one big family. Within the first few weeks, you are already starting to work with patients and it doesn’t take long to realise how much of a privilege it is to be in the Physiotherapy program.

physio_Camp group on rock 2018

Camp is a fantastic event, but I believe it only gets better from here so good luck to you all and welcome to the Physiotherapy family!"

Sherry Malik, PSA President 2018

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Physio graduate takes top student award

physio_Award recipient Bridget Watson speaks at the Staff Club function. otago665489The secret of living is giving, says recent School of Physiotherapy graduate Bridget Watson.

She was was one of 18 students to receive a University of Otago Student Leadership Award (UOSLA) in October this year.

At a celebration of this year’s award recipients, Bridget reflected on some of the key experiences over the course of the programme.

Positive action for exceptional 'kids'

physio_world physio day 2017 halberg group students posed on couchEvery year on September 8 we help celebrate International World Physiotherapy Day with a positive community day of action.

Halberg lead advisor Bridget Meyer accepts a cheque from Student Executive President Karla Van Der Walt and students who worked so hard on the day.

This year the Physiotherapy Students Association chose to offer one day of massage sessions at the School of Physiotherapy to raise funds for the Halberg Foundation’s invaluable work for children living with disabilities.

Bridget Meyer, from the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation thanked the students and spoke of how delighted her organisation was to receive a cheque for $700 raised by students on the day, which will be used to improve access to local sports participation for children living with disabilities in and around Dunedin.

A big ‘thanks’ to all who took part and to the many who arrived to be pampered for a very good cause on International World Physiotherapy Day.

You can read more about the work of the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation and support their work here

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Applause for young health researchers


Two School of Physiotherapy graduates presented their research findings in Rotorua recently.

physio_melissa gillespie and hui lin.NZMPA.2017Hui Lin (left) and Melissa Gillespie completed their Bachelors of Physiotherapy (Honours) degrees last year, and spoke at the New Zealand Manipulative Physiotherapists Association on the Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 August 2017.

Hui’s presentation to an eager audience of clinicians and researchers interested in manual therapy focussed on “Frequency of manual therapy for patients with knee osteoarthritis: what do physiotherapists think?

Melissa was awarded the “Best Conference Presentation” overall for her work on “Rotator cuff-related pain: patients’ understanding and experiences”. The award indicates that a very high standard of research and presentation has been reached.

This team presentation showcased recent research initiatives at the School of Physiotherapy, which seek to integrate and reflect the experiences of both physiotherapists’ and patients.

Well done, Melissa and Hui; and congratulations.

Find out more about Hui and Melissa's research work here

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Careers Day hums in Palmerston North

The Mid-Central Health Careers Day held recently in Palmerston North focused on local students interested in exploring career options in the health professions.

physio_students at palmerstonnorth.2A keen group of Year 4 School of Physiotherapy at Otago students based in Palmerston North as part of their clinical training took part in this DHB sponsored event, working with our locally based staffer Rebekah Higgs to welcome senior high school students from 8 schools in the region.

Our young physios talked about what new students might expect in the transition from school work to university, the unique student culture at Otago, and what the study of physiotherapy is really like.

Our students did an excellent job of representing the School, giving the wider Manawatu community a good clear picture of the critical part that physiotherapy plays in building healthier New Zealand communities.

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Proud Physios take trophy ... again

A report from proud trophy holder, 2017 PSA Sports Rep Cory Glover

Physio has several social sports teams running throughout the year and all of them are fully funded by our Physiotherapy Students Association or PSA.

physio_cory glover from PSA holds trophy 2017"These teams play one week day each week for up to ten weeks against social teams made up of other faculties, flatmates and friends and this year we had teams competing in volleyball, netball, indoor football, and basketball. On paper, it is called ‘social sport’ but our sports rep knows there is really no such thing, especially because the School of Physiotherapy has never let the Inter-faculty Trophy slip from its hands in fourteen years.

This time our annual sports tournament again came down to the wire. Our netball team played on the thirty first of July and emerged undefeated, giving us the upper hand leading into the other three sports. Please note that this netball team was also undefeated throughout the social league.

Touch rugby on a Sunday morning saw a very small turnout for all four faculties but Physio came away with first equal with Med as both teams had four players turn up. I would say that this was poor form indeed from all concerned. We headed into indoor football after an undefeated social season so we were confident of success. That was until we saw Dentistry had pulled in many non-dentistry students to strengthen their team. Inevitably they came away with the points on goal differential. One more Physio goal would have seen us in top position.

Basketball saw an energetic team entered from Dentistry this year. Two points separated the final score line and overall we came a close second in the basketball division.

Most importantly, with two first places and two second places, Physio yet again lifts the trophy.

A huge turnout, with the exception of touch that is, was really what set us apart from the other faculties - proving that there is strength in numbers.

It really was a proud day for all"

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Making it all better at the Teddy Bear Hospital

The fear many younger children experience when visiting a hospital, doctor or dentist can be lessened by the friendly and familiar face of a much loved Teddy physio_teddy bear hospital staff 2017Bear.

The Teddy Bear Hospital is an international model, and physiotherapy students were welcomed by the OU Medical Student Association to join medical, dentistry and pharmacy students for the annual Teddy Bear Hospital on Saturday, 27th May, in the University of Otago’s Hunter Centre in Dunedin.

Our budding physiotherapists worked out a number of clever exercises suitable for tender Teddy Bears and these manipulations attracted much attention from their young humans. The bears themselves were also encouraged to complete an exercise circuit before seeing the “dentist” for a sore tooth or “doctor” for other real and imagined ailments.

Many parents, their youngsters and their treasured Teddy Bears were given close attention and a general improvement in the cheerfulness and wellness of all attendees has been noted.

Read more about the day's events here at Corpus – a forum for conversations about medicine and life

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Community health and well-being key for students

Community health and well-being are touchstones for the profession of physiotherapy in New Zealand.

Inter-professional education now plays an important part within the Division of Health Sciences at Otago and the School of Physiotherapy, as it helps students to learn collaboration skills.physio_students gisborne colours 2017

Our year four physiotherapy students have been participants on an inter-professional education placement in the Tairāwhiti region on the North Island's east coast since 2010. Students live, work and play alongside dental, dietetic, nursing, medical, nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and oral health peers and learn with, from and about each other.

They make a positive contribution to the health and well-being of the community, which is largely rural with a high percentage of Māori.

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Great turnout for cultural dinner at School of Physiotherapy

Arranged by the Physiotherapy Student Association team, the cultural dinner is a real highlight of the annual social calendar at the School of Physiotherapy.

Students and staff bring a favourite dish and get to share and compare menus and ideas from all corners of the globe.

This no - alcohol night with great cuisine and lively conversation is just one more reason to become a member of your PSA.

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Health Science first year information night a hit

physio_HSFY students at open evening

Some passers-by on campus at Otago learned recently that there is more to physiotherapy than the treatment of aches and sprains.

Alongside presentations by other schools and programmes, a keen group of physiotherapy students and a number of staff, were on hand to engage with and inform first year students and the general public about what physiotherapy can achieve and how it helps individuals, families and the wider community.

Huge thanks to all who helped out. It was fun, and we really could not have done it without you.

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Meet the new physiotherapy student executive

physio_student exec 2017 finalSix of the seven students who will make up the new executive for 2017 were introduced recently at the School. Here they are, from left to right:

Megan Webb - Cultural rep: Hosts cultural dinners for students and faculty to attend, sets up communication cafe where international students are buddied up with Kiwi students to work on their casual Kiwi-English language skills. Megan also keeps an eye on our international students and helps involve everyone in school life.

Mitchell Crooks and Asha Read - Social reps: Mitchell and Asha arrange all of the social gigs for the year; Orientation Camp, Flat Crawl, wine and cheese night, the Ball and other more random events.

Hayden Kilgour - Education rep: Students talk to Hayden about any educational concerns or feedback on the course. He also helps organise clinical uniforms and schedules first aid refreshers. He also plans a quiz night but is not allowed to write the questions.

Cory Glover - Sports rep: Helps to organise social sport, the Relay for Life and the Health Sciences Inter-faculty Sports competition which Physio wins every year ... but tied first with Dentistry last year.

Karla Van Der Walt - does a little bit of everything, helps write this page, and makes sure everything happens to schedule. Karla is student representative and talks with the Deans and Faculty on behalf of the students.

Aiden Toder (absent) - Treasurer: Aiden is our accountant and helps us pay for everything.

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Student orientation camp 2017

physio student summer camp 2017 Human Pyramid 2Orientation Camp this year was held at the sunny seaside town of Brighton, just south of Dunedin.

This annual student led camp was a great opportunity for students to meet each other and faculty in a relaxed setting. Here is a report from Student Executive member and camp organiser Karla Van Der Walt

“The annual orientation camp for new undergraduates joining the physiotherapy programme is always a lot of fun. This year’s camp was no exception. It was amazing to see the transformation in the sea of faces staring back at you when addressing the group throughout the camp. We started out with scattered groups of sheepish faces and mumbled replies, ending up with one big close knit group - tired, but laughing nonetheless. I loved being a part of running the camp this year. It really made the difference for our year when we joined the programme - allowing everyone to get to know each other and form the friendships that would strengthen throughout the year from working in closely together. I believe that physiotherapy requires you to work with others so you end up being one big family, where everyone looks out for you - students and faculty alike. It is refreshing to have team mates within the school who can help you toward the finish line. That is the goal of the orientation camp. To help our fellow students get to know each other and realise that there are people from so many different backgrounds entering the course and that everyone works together from here on in to get the best overall results - and to make some amazing lasting memories! It was terrific to see another year's intake of students embrace the friendly, cooperative and supportive nature of physiotherapy and its members - just like we did.

Welcome to the family, year 2 students!”


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