The NSW chapter of the Sports group has worked tirelessly over the last few years to increase its involvement with the student population. With numerous courses tailored for students as well as sports coverage opportunities at events such as the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon and the Sun-Herald City2Surf, the feedback from our enthusiastic students was always that they wanted to get more opportunities to network and gain ‘hands on’ experience with sports physiotherapists while at work.
Hence the need for a program to connect motivated and interested students with positive role models was identified and the SPA Mentorship Program was born. The aim of the program is to give students the ability to spend time with a titled sports member. This includes following them during sports coverage, spending quality time in the clinic, and giving them opportunities to learn advanced skills. It also gives students the experience of understanding life as a sports physiotherapist and empowering them to see their own path towards sports titling and specialisation. The program is a flexible three-month program where there is a mixture of structured meetings, time in the clinic, and sports coverage exposure. This year’s program took eight students from a mixture of Sydney Uni, ACU and UWS. Adam Smyth, a fourth-year student at ACU, was one of the successful 2014 applicants. Here, he answers a few questions on his experience with the program thus far.
Why did you apply to the mentorship program?
I thought it would be an invaluable opportunity to work with and learn off a titled sports member. It was a chance to continue to develop my initial assessment skills and better myself with formulating treatment plans. I think that if you are able to initially diagnose an injury correctly, it will allow you to implement the correct treatment, minimising further injury and reducing recovery time.
There are many questions I have regarding physiotherapy and treatment, and to be able to ask these questions without being in a structured class environment, was very appealing. It was also a perfect opportunity to start forming networks for future employment and career prospects.
What kinds of experiences have you been able to get on the program?
So far I have been able to work in Michael Reynolds’ clinic and watch him assess and treat. There have already been so many little tips that I have learned and some fantastic rehabilitation exercises that I will be able to put into practice. This has also helped me to understand how to structure a physiotherapy session, and the process behind how a clinic runs.
Through this experience, I have been able to work at the Sydney Half Marathon, as well as attend Northern Tigers Soccer Club training for their injury clinic and weekend league matches.
Has the program changed the way you think about sports physiotherapy?
I don’t think it has changed the way I think about the profession, but it has definitely made me even more excited about becoming a physiotherapist and working with athletes. It has helped me decide that I want to be a physiotherapist that treats injuries and work in a private practice environment.
Do you feel as though you now understand what it takes to become a sports physiotherapist?
I realise that I have a lot to learn; by being part of the program I am already seeing a transfer of university learning to real practice. I think I understand what it takes to become a sports physiotherapist as I have a passion for sport and working with athletes to keep them performing at their peak.
The program is open to all final-year NSW university students; an advertisement will go out at the beginning of the first semester each year.
Article from physiotherapy publication, inmotion, September 2014.