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A warm welcome

First, a warm welcome to all the new students reading Frontline for the first time.

I remember receiving my first copy and how excited I felt at being part of the physiotherapy profession.

As you go through the pages, you’ll start to see just how varied this profession is – and that Frontline covers it all.

One thing that I have always loved about CSP and Frontline is their dedication to students and this edition is aimed specifically at students.

Starting university can be a daunting experience and embarking on a physiotherapy degree is not easy.

It’s a very demanding course and can seem overwhelming to start with. But fear not – we have all gone through it, and once settled in, you will enjoy every aspect of the degree and profession!

For some great advice, read Tom McKeever’s 10 tips on being a physio student.

Tom tackles topics such as dealing with the workload and seizing new opportunities, becoming a CSP rep and taking advantage of all the benefits the society offers.

On page 32, members reveal how the CSP helped them to follow their passion and work in a field they love.

For many students, going to university also means a new living situation. Moving away from home for the first time or going back as a mature student to shared accommodation can be quite challenging. The intense nature of the course also means that it can be difficult to combine studying with paid employment.

With  a limited income, housing issues can bring further stresses.

On page 24, students and qualified physiotherapists share their experiences of adjusting to new circumstances, air some of the challenges and offer tips on how they dealt with them.

Now I’m sure you’re keen to start going through the rest magazine. Once again, welcome to the CSP family!

Alexandra Hejazi is a third year physiotherapy student at St George’s, University of London. She is a CSP rep and member of the student executive committee.

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Nervous about starting a degree in physiotherapy?

If so, get the inside track on how to get the most from your course from second year student Tom McKeever  

Well done for choosing to study physiotherapy at university. I have found the course to be challenging but the hard work is worth it.

Having spent the past year studying for practical exams, writing essays and learning about the profession, I have some top tips which, I hope, will help other physiotherapy students enjoy their first year as much as I did.

1  Don’t be afraid to question

Make the effort to find the best way in which you learn –  even if this means that you are drawing muscles and marking bony points on your new flatmates. Go ahead and make an active effort to learn and teach others.

2 Which aspect of physiotherapy most interests you?
Build up your knowledge base around this topic or area of practice. I have been told that at interviews in the future, employers will view this as a sign of personal interest and initiative.

Your efforts will mean you have more to talk during an interview.

3 Go the extra mile
Physiotherapists are well regarded for their hard-working and pro-active attitude.

Try and invest some time in finding out about physiotherapy events or courses and other opportunities.

Some of these might be placed right in front of you, but it is your job to get involved. Some of you may have the opportunity to attend massage courses which will also give your profile a boost.

Don’t worry if you can’t attend these courses in the first year. There is still plenty of time before you qualify.

4 Socialise
Physiotherapy is an intensive course with a large number of teaching hours.

I think it’s still important to spend your free time doing the things that you love. Get to know your flatmates, some of whom will know the best places to go.

One of my flatmates enjoyed movies and we saw most of the films that came out this year using our student  union discount.

Getting the balance between studying and leisure will help with all kinds of stresses that you may have.

5 Join the CSP  
As well as Frontline, the CSP offers students the ability to raise issues, participate in discussions, access learning materials and communicate with other physio students around the UK.

Discounts to services and products are available through CSP Plus.

If you have not already chosen your CSP student rep for the year, I would encourage you to stand because of the opportunities you gain to travel to new cities, meet other physiotherapy students and the inspiration you get from guest speakers at our meetings.

6 Try to make every lecture
Everyone sleeps through their alarm once or twice (or a few more times) during the term.

Your new lifestyle will be hectic and demanding, inevitably leaving you a little tired!

I tried my best to make it to lectures and practicals as most of the useful learning is achieved during these sessions and it’s hard to catch up without attending the practicals.

It can be difficult when some of your friends or flatmates seem to have fewer lectures than you and they might try and tempt you out the night before.

7  Be flexible
Many aspects of studying physiotherapy require you to be flexible.

Placement (if you have one this year) will take up almost all of your time. Travelling, planning, and constantly thinking on your toes will be exhausting.

Be prepared to miss out on a couple of your favourite TV programmes or the Monday night pint down at the union, due to sleep becoming more important.

8 Give yourself time to adjust  
I found moving away from home challenging in a number of ways.

I need to adapt to having to cook and wash clothes myself along with starting a new course. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the routine of living away from my family.

Don’t worry if it takes a while for you to settle in to your new life.

Just try not to wash your woolly jumpers on a high temperature, unless you want them to fit your younger brother or sister.

9 Independent learning
It took me a while to realise that I needed to do more self-directed study rather than wait to be told what to do.

Check with others that you are studying the right topics and that you are keeping up. Bearing this in mind, try not to study until you are exhausted. Take a chilled out, but productive, approach.

10  Working
If you can avoid working a part-time job during term-time, then take full advantage of the extra time on your hands.

I have been lucky and still have a job for the holidays. I know that some of my cohort have jobs alongside the course and they manage their time well. Just make sure that you give yourself some free time and don’t work yourself too hard. fl

Tom McKeever is the second year student rep at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. He is also the Scotland and Northern Ireland regional coordinator.  Want to follow the Twitter account for physio students?Go to:@thecspstudents

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