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The University of Southampton
Health SciencesPostgraduate study

Oliver Smith MSc Physiotherapy, 2018

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Hi, I'm Oliver and I studied MSc Physiotherapy at the University of Southampton.

The facilities at the University are incredible as are the tutors - for me having such good sport facilities was important and meant I could easily take my mind off studying whilst remaining on campus - the atmosphere and community are fantastic.

Why did you choose the University of Southampton?

With Southampton having the reputation it does as well as the facilities and close links with the hospital it made sense for me to come here. The physiotherapy course is highly regarded around the country and so Southampton was top of my list.

Were you nervous or excited about anything in particular before starting the course?

Before beginning the course I was nervous about the workload. The course is challenging but throughout the two years I was able to maintain all of my commitments including running for Southampton Athletics Club and representing the university at BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) cross country.

How were your expectations met or fears overcome?

The tutors at Southampton were fantastic. My research supervisor was extremely helpful and was always there to answer my questions or point me in the right direction not just with my research but with any questions I had in general about the course. The whole team is really approachable and help all the students in varying different ways where support is required.

What has it been like studying here?

The course itself is very challenging and entailed lots of long days and late nights to keep up with the workload. The facilities at the University are incredible as are the tutors, for me having such good sport facilities was important and meant I could easily take my mind off studying whilst remaining on campus. The atmosphere and community are fantastic at Southampton, there is a Physiotherapy Society which meets at regular intervals for social events which I would encourage people to get involved with.

What other activities did you take advantage of while at university?

During the course you are required to complete five six-week placements so working alongside this is difficult but not impossible and some people did combine the two. I spent much of my spare time running and was involved with the athletics club within the University. I represented the University at BUCS cross country in Sheffield and run competitively for Southampton Athletics Club, something the University is very supportive of.

What do you think about the study facilities at the University?

The campus as a whole is vast and there are so many nice places to study, as a group or individually, booking rooms out is easy. The sports facilities are fantastic and reasonably priced. There are multiple restaurants and bars for relaxing after lectures. There is a simulated ward which includes simulator patients and on occasion actors are brought in to act as patients which is a useful learning tool. Also due to the close links with the hospital going to the dissection room in the first year was extremely useful and helped put what you read in the text books into perspective.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’?

Completing my research at Southampton was a real highlight, it involved gaining NHS ethical approval which is no mean feat as well as sampling 150 patients.

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

My MSc was two of the hardest, yet most enjoyable years of my life. I gained friends who will be friends for life and a qualification from one of the best universities in the country if not the world. My way of thinking and critiquing has been refined and I feel now that I am able to produce research of the highest quality.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

For me the Critical Inquiry module was what I most enjoyed, having already completed a BSc I felt that I wanted to produce some research which was of use clinically. This module ran continuously from the first day and involved a research project which was all mine and evolved into a piece of research with over 150 participants which I presented at the annual conference at the University.

What advice would you give to a student starting their Masters degree at Southampton?

Be prepared to work extremely hard, doing an MSc is not easy and is a huge step up from an undergraduate degree, a lot is expected of you but I found if you treat it like a job and work 9-5 the rest of the time is yours.

On graduating, have you managed to secure a physiotherapy role?

Before completing my course I applied for and was offered a job at University hospital Southampton as a rotational physiotherapist. I have completed one rotation on orthopaedics and am now working on the adult cystic fibrosis ward. I have also recently joined the bank staff at a local private hospital to gain further experience and gain exposure to the private sector.

How did your course at Southampton prepare you for your future career?

Southampton taught me that it is ok to question things and that doing things the conventional way isn’t always the best way. It taught me how to be analytical and how to reason through why I might do a particular treatment over another.


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