Andrew Annear graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Physiotherapy (endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy)
Why did you decide on postgraduate studies?
I feel like there is always more to learn in the physiotherapy realm.
Courses and my own study was helpful, but postgraduate presented an opportunity to challenge my thinking and approach physiotherapy on a wider scale. I felt nervous knowing my physiotherapy skills and reasoning would be challenged, but I knew this would help my clinical practice.
Why did you choose the School of Physiotherapy at Otago
I chose the University of Otago because I had studied for my Undergraduate degree there.
I knew the School and some of the staff, and had really enjoyed the environment and approach. I was working full time in Australia at the time, so being able to study part-time from distance was key, and the School of Physiotherapy provided a postgraduate programme that suited this.
Some of my close friends still lived in Dunedin and it was an added bonus being able to travel down and see them.
I know other physiotherapists who had completed the same postgraduate course and talked about how it really challenged and improved their clinical practice, which also helped my decision.
What was good, what was challenging, and what do you feel proud about?
The journey has been great. Personally I have found it rewarding and I am proud that my results represent the hard work I have put in.
A difficult aspect I found was putting my ideas regarding physiotherapy out there and allowing my clinical reasoning to be challenged, by both our supervisors and the other students. Looking back, this has been one of the most rewarding aspects, as I feel my clinical practice improved throughout each semester due to the nature of the course.
The initial return to study did take time to adjust to, trying to find a balance between work, study and time away from both. The most challenging aspect would have been the hours needed. There was some relief at the end of each paper, but in the second year of study especially, the breaks were long enough so that when semesters started up again I was ready to continue studying and having deadlines to meet.
How has postgraduate study influenced your clinical practice?
It has definitely changed my approach to day to day work, and strengthened areas of my practice, especially regarding chronic pain and individuals presenting with co-morbidities or other systemic health conditions.
My approach to the use of imaging has changed since undertaking postgraduate study. In my first couple of years out of undergrad I probably gave too much weight to imaging, without critiquing it enough or applying it to my client with a holistic-enough approach.
Being on this course reinforced the idea of continuously evaluating my practice and trying to prevent myself falling into bad habits.
The postgraduate study has also definitely improved my ability and confidence to critique literature. Searching for strong evidence, and applying their findings accurately has been a key aspect of the postgraduate study. My ability to apply findings from the literature to my clients, when relevant, I feel has improved each year of postgraduate study.
Would you recommend postgraduate studies to peers?
Yes, definitely. Postgraduate study has not only provided me with more knowledge, but more importantly challenged my thinking and approach towards physiotherapy and has improved both.
It has also prompted me to continue challenging my own practice and continuously improve. If you are willing to work hard and sacrifice some hours outside of work towards study, then you will do well. Don’t be afraid of asking questions and making mistakes, I believe it’s the best way to learn as much as possible from postgrad.
Every physiotherapist practices differently, and it was a great environment where students were happy to share knowledge and learn from one another.
And finally, it was great to be surrounded by students who were driven to further their practice.
Andrew Annear holds a Bachelors in Physiotherapy (BPhty) from the School of Physiotherapy at Otago, and completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Physiotherapy (endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy), studying part-time. The papers he completed were PHTY501 Biomedical Science in Physiotherapy, PHTY542 Sports Physiotherapy, PHTY543 Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy, and PHTY561 Clinical Practice.