Physiotherapy is a profession which involves the interaction between therapists, patients, families and caregivers, in a process of assessing movement potential and in establishing agreed-upon goals and objectives using knowledge and skills unique to physiotherapists. (WCPT, 2004).
Physiotherapy is a range of concepts, themes and practices which are related to each other but which cannot be reduced to a single entity. During the last twenty years, it has changed from a collection of treatments prescribed by medical practitioners into a method of clinical practice by which physiotherapists examine and assess patients referred for treatment and select appropriate intervention. The newly acquired diagnostic role and the traditional ameliorative and restorative roles demand a high level of theoretical and factual knowledge and practical ability. Physiotherapy requires understanding of diseases processes and technical competence, both of which are formed on sound knowledge of Anatomy, Biomedical Sciences and Physical Science.
The first three years of the course are mainly academic, while the final year is dedicated solely to supervised clinical practice. During the first semester of the final year, students are encouraged to obtain clinical practice overseas utilising one of the several Erasmus agreements that the Physiotherapy Division has with major universities throughout Europe. On completion of the course the graduate will have the skills necessary to prevent, diagnose and treat any condition that influences the physical function and performance of the body.
Learning outcomes play an important role in helping physiotherapy students to understand the links between different progressions of their course of study, from the basic class level, to the year level, to the end of course level, and between academic and clinical contexts. In order to enhance the quality of students’ learning and their sense of course understanding, considerable merit in the use of outcomes as a guide to learning and practice at all levels of the physiotherapy curriculum has been emphasised. Each study unit within the course programme has its own learning outcomes stated.
Generally the learning outcomes for the course can be stated on a yearly basis. The first year of the course is intended to introduce the students to the subjects supportive to physiotherapy included biomedical sciences and basic physiotherapy skills.
The second year of the course introduces knowledge of the pathological basis to disease and the interprofessional approach to patient care for various conditions.
Further specialised skills and techniques are introduced in the third year while the final year is intended to amalgamate theory with practice with the students concentrating on clinical skills and supervised patient contact together with a special project.
As of academic year 2009-2010 students will be keeping a reflective portfolio to facilitate self analysis and self audit during practical and academic components of the course.
Course intended for
Applicants are expected to be eligible once having attained the necessary requirements for entry into the course. It is expected that applicants will possess the following personal qualities and skills.
As a physiotherapist one needs to be patient, sympathetic and firm in order to help patients who may be anxious or frightened, and reluctant to perform difficult or painful interventions. Physiotherapists must encourage, reassure and persuade patients of the ultimate benefits of their treatment. They will need to be skilled in listening, explaining and report writing. Ideally they ought to be physically fit and have an interest in science and physical education.
Career opportunites and access to further studies
On successful completion of the course, candidates are eligible to apply for registration with the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine both locally and in Europe especially the United Kingdom.
Once registered, the physiotherapist can look forward to state employment, within the Department of Health, Care of the Elderly, and the Department of Education, as well as employment in the private sector both on an individual basis and/or in private hospitals.
Physiotherapists have been known to be employed in the field of hotels and leisure and in industry.
Career opportunities exist in academia where access to Masters’ or Doctoral programmes are available both locally and overseas. These opportunities facilitate induction into teaching posts, or areas of specialisation.
One of the areas where physiotherapy has taken a major role is that within primary health care.