Advice line: student wellbeing while on placement

Ciara Younge suggests ways student physios can maintain their wellbeing during their studies and while on placement.

Physiotherapy is concerned with identifying and maximising quality of life, which encompasses physical, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. Your own wellbeing and mental health is central to delivering this for your patients, as you cannot pour from an empty cup. 
Your placement is not only the perfect opportunity for you to practise your clinical skills, but also to develop your own self-care strategies. 
Self-care is a set of tools or strategies we use to look after our emotional wellbeing. Such strategies should reduce your risk of fatigue and burnout in the healthcare setting, and assist you to manage stress and work challenges throughout your career and personal life.
This is the central theme of the CSP Pinpoint the Pressure campaign, so that rather than struggling alone, there is an environment of peer support. While this is a workplace campaign, it does not mean that student physiotherapists cannot benefit from the same support structures as support workers and registered physiotherapists, especially while on clinical placement.
It is easy to get caught up in the pressures of placement and to bury yourself in work and studyto ‘get through‘. But it is important to remain connected socially and have time for those small conversations – and a cup of tea. As you would check in with a patient, you should also check in with yourself and with other students on placement with you. As the Love Activity, Hate Exercise? campaign shows, there is power in having a conversation. 
We are always mindful of our physical wellbeing – if you noticed a cough while on placement you would check it out. We should always follow the same approach with our mental wellbeing. It is always okay not to be okay. Your university is keenly aware of this and has services to support students’ wellbeing. 
Remember, it is not what happens that is important, but how you respond to what happens. Look after yourself in order to look after your patients – and always be self-care aware.     
  • Ciara Younge is CSP student officer

Ciara Younge CSP student officer

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