Try not to be too nervous on your first day

Lecturers Alex Harvey and Mandy Jones from Brunel University, London, on how to get the most from physio training

Congratulations on gaining a place on a physiotherapy programme. It’s the beginning of an exciting and diverse career. Try not to be nervous on your first day – everyone will feel the same.  You will soon realise that physio students tend to be very sociable, chatty and fun.  You will quickly make lifelong friends and feel part of the physiotherapy community.

Enjoy your summer breaks every year because physiotherapy courses have a high workload. While friends on other courses may have six hours of lectures a week, you may find you have six hours of lectures and tutorials a day. The first year of most physiotherapy programmes provides a foundation of knowledge and skills which explains the high volume of work.  Students who work together in small peer groups, revising theory and practising their practical skills, tend to thrive and succeed. Never be frightened to ask for help; your lecturers are happy to be approached for guidance and support.

Most practical tutorials involve students acting as models for each other when learning anatomy, assessment and physiotherapy management skills. This may feel daunting at first, but after a couple of weeks it will feel natural. It is so important to understand a wide range of normal presentations and function before assessing patients with dysfunction. It’s also important to know what it’s like to be a patient. 

Although you are expected to work hard, other aspects of university life are important. Wednesdays are usually free days at most universities, to allow students to participate in a wide range of sports, creative and social activities. As well as being fun and meeting people from other courses, participation helps you to develop transferable skills, such as communication, team working and leadership which you will use in your first clinical placement. The first time you wear your physiotherapy uniform and start clinical placement is really exciting. Be pro-active and make the most of every learning opportunity.

Universities offer a wealth of support services, ranging from academic writing skills, disability and dyslexia support, financial advice and counselling. Find out what’s available and use these services. They are incredibly helpful.  We hope you thoroughly enjoy your physiotherapy degree and wish you every success.

  • Alex Harvey, BSc physiotherapy programme lead and
  • Mandy Jones, MSc (pre-registration) physiotherapy programme lead

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