Transferable skills

Kate Hunt has been working in Rwanda to set up a physiotherapy centre rediscovering the strengths of physiotherapy training

Kate Hunt is an MSK physiotherapist working in London and in the East African country Rwanda
Kate Hunt, MSK physiotherapist working in London and Rwanda

I’ve never loved my job more than my first day working in remote Rwanda. Eight years ago I was part of a team exploring the provision of physiotherapy. 

It was humbling at the start of each day to meet patients who had travelled hours to see us. We put on the white coats we had been given and got started. With the help of translation, we found our physio skills were immediately transferrable. 

Physiotherapy seemed like a little bit of magic on that day. We were in a different culture, sometimes seeing conditions we had only previously seen in textbooks, yet we could work and help our patients. 

I felt grateful for my working experience, my solid physiotherapy training and the CPD I have been committed to. I felt especially grateful for the varied experience gained in my younger rotational years. 

Physiotherapy is not magic, it just feels like it when you go back to basics and have very little resource and equipment. 

When everything is stripped away I felt the strength of good hands-on palpation, accurate clinical assessment, clear documentation and treatment planning.

With just our hands and heads we can make a huge difference to the lives of our patients. 

When I am not in Rwanda, I am working within health and wellbeing in the newspaper industry. My particular interest is in posture and muscular strain related to using technology. It couldn’t be more different to my work in Rwanda and I love that.

Physios have knowledge and skills that apply to so many different settings.

It’s this message I find myself wanting to say to young physiotherapists. Most physios have at times been bogged down with bureaucracy and difficulties posed by a stretched healthcare system. Long waiting lists and short appointment times are all too familiar. At these times it is easy to forget the core strengths of physiotherapy. 

Physios I trained with may remember I was the student who came close to leaving in my first year. I’m now the physiotherapist who after 35 years of working still finds it’s a job that brings me new challenges and opportunities every day. 

Despite Covid we have completed the build of a purpose-built physiotherapy centre and we are up and running with both inpatient and outpatient services. We set up a ‘final mile’ campaign to fill a container of donated equipment in order for us to gain government accreditation. 

This will secure the sustainable future for the centre and physio services for the 300,000 people within our catchment area. 

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