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An MA in mind and body

Stirling-based physiotherapist Ian Stevens is the first physio to have completed the UK’s only Masters degree course in medical humanities, which he hopes will advance his skills in chronic pain management.

The distance learning course, run by Swansea University, explores how behaviour and philosophy impact on health and patients’ coping strategies. Ian Stevens said he was attracted to the course because it challenged the use of a purely scientific approach to pain management.

‘Having worked as a physiotherapist for over 15 years, I was aware that a lot of healthcare is not measurable in a conventional science sense. There are ill-defined medical problems that don’t fit into an organised medical approach. Many people with back pain, for example, are distressed and you need to understand the person in a more holistic context and how their beliefs and narratives affect how they cope,’ he said.

He added that, with so much emphasis on evidence-based practice to raise the profile of the profession, many physiotherapists have difficulty dealing with the overlap between mind and body, for which he said the course had helped him to get to grips with.

Ian Stevens, who received a CSP study grant and support from his employer Stirling Royal Infirmary to take the MA, will use his new found knowledge in his work as a senior clinician in musculoskeletal and chronic pain management working in GP practices. 

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