Sydney physiotherapy student talks about her path to success

Windsor, Ontario native Alexis Curtis is well on her way to achieving her dreams of becoming a physiotherapist. With a degree in Human Kinetics (Honours Kinesiology) Movement Science and a desire to help others, Alexis decided the standard Canadian path wasn’t for her. Instead, with her eye on the prestigious University of Sydney and their exceptional physiotherapy program, she was determined that her path should be shaded by palm trees and aglow with golden beaches!

When we asked Alexis why she chose to study physiotherapy, she is quick to respond: “I have a passion for wanting to help others and I have always wanted to be a physiotherapist. I want to work with patients, helping them get back to work, sport and/or perform day-to-day activities pain free.”

University of Sydney Physiotherapy School
Alexis at the main Sydney Uni campus

Some may say travelling around the globe for education is a little too far. Taking the road less travelled can be daunting to some, but Alexis forged ahead with exuberance.

“I chose the University of Sydney because of their amazing program. They are so world renowned and have an amazing group of professors who want you to succeed!” she says.

Students undertaking the Master of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney have the opportunity to study within one of the largest health science faculties in Australia. The pioneering work conducted by the Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences research teams has an enormous impact on the health and quality of life of the community, and its Master of Physiotherapy program rigorously tests and enhances students’ abilities.

“The program does a great job of teaching you all the fields within physiotherapy.”

Alexis agrees. “I am loving the program! Although it’s a two-year program, it is going by so fast! I knew that it would require a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is such a rewarding feeling being part of an amazing faculty. The professors are awesome and offer lots of help.”

Sydney’s clinical placements are undertaken in both the public and private sectors, and they further the opportunities to develop an understanding of the practice of physiotherapy and its place in the contemporary health system. After all, the world of physiotherapy is so much more than just rehabilitating sports injuries.

“The program does a great job of really opening the idea of different pathways in the area of physiotherapy,” Alexa adds. “I was always so driven to work in the musculoskeletal area of physiotherapy, and although I still am, the area of cardiopulmonary has also crossed my mind. The program does a great job of teaching you all the fields within physiotherapy. I am just so excited to start placement in my second year, to really get hands-on experience in different areas of physiotherapy!”

Students gain practical hours during their placements. The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators requires physiotherapy graduates to have a minimum of 1025 supervised clinical practice hours. The Sydney Master of Physiotherapy currently offers 850 clinical hours, with options to obtain more practical experience. OzTREKK students are encouraged to maintain contact with the Alliance throughout their time in Australia to ensure they stay up to date with the requirements.

“One thing you should know is that in order to write the examinations to practice in Canada, you must have a certain number of practical hours,” Alexis explains. “The university usually has students complete four five-week placement blocks in their second year, but this doesn’t provide Canadians enough hours.”

But even with the challenge of gaining practical hours, Alexis was not put off.

“You have two options: You can either take a fifth placement block during your second year (meaning you won’t have a break during that year), or you can obtain a physiotherapist job following completion of your degree and work as a physiotherapist to obtain the remainder hours. Many students this year decided to stay a bit longer after graduation to work to earn some money instead of paying money for the additional placement block!”

Stay in Australia and earn money? Sounds like a win-win!

“I am in Australia—what’s not to love? It is an amazing country and there is always so much to do! Sometimes it doesn’t feel real that I am in such an amazing place in the world. The weather is great, the people are awesome, and Sydney is amazing—you will fall in love with this place!”

University of Sydney Physiotherapy School
Visiting the roos at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane

All of us at OzTREKK agree: the beautiful city of Sydney is one of the highlights of our trips to Australia. Who wouldn’t want to see the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and its countless beaches? Sydney is a tourist’s haven. But where is the best place to live if you’re a student?

“Just be sure to make a bucket list for your time here in Australia because it goes by fast and there is so much to see!”

Of course, Sydney is one of the major cities in Australia, comparable to Toronto and Vancouver, and rent can vary depending on the location. Alexis warns that it can be difficult to find accommodation that isn’t overly pricey.

“As of now (until February 2018) the Health Sciences campus is in Lidcombe,” Alexis explains. “After this, the campus will relocate to main campus (Camperdown) in the city. Lidcombe is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so if you plan to set up accommodation while in Canada I recommend you look for somewhere between Lidcombe and CBD. This way you are still able to easily commute to the city.”

So where should new students look for accommodation? Sydney is huge and has dozens of suburbs, so choices are endless!

“Mystudentvillages is a great student accommodation organization that has multiple locations available for students, and you are able to set up your accommodations before coming out here,” she says.

“Prices depend on your preference of location and room type. If you would rather stay more central, closer to the city, the University of Sydney location is great.”

If you’re an adventurer, you can look for accommodation after you arrive in Australia.

“Other students from Canada decided to wait until they got to Australia and looked for places to rent with fellow students,” Alexis says. “All of them found locations, and it wasn’t too difficult at all. Just know that most places for rent (outside of student accommodation services) don’t come with furniture—this includes a fridge, bed, etc. So keep in mind that you will have to be on the hunt for those things.”

If you’ve chosen to study in Australia, then you’re already wandering off the beaten path, and Alexis encourages further adventure!

“You are here for school, but make sure you set aside some time and utilize your breaks to travel. Tigerair and Jetstar are two cheaper airlines that offer amazing deals. For Tigerair, Tuesdays is when they post big deals. When you see a good deal, book it because the prices can go up fast. Don’t be afraid to call and price match; they sometimes beat the other airline’s price! One tip with flights though: they get you on baggage, so pack lightly. You are usually allowed seven kilograms of carry-on luggage. Just be sure to make a bucket list for your time here in Australia because it goes by fast and there is so much to see!”

University of Sydney Physiotherapy School
Kangaroos have been Alexis’ favourite animal since she was little!

Any other tips for future students?

“Australia is an amazing country and the University of Sydney has an amazing Master of Physiotherapy program. Exam time is very stressful, but don’t worry—you’ll get through it! It is expensive, so if you can, apply for scholarships and bursaries while in Canada. Also, OzTREKK is amazing! They really help with the entire process. Ask them every question you may have—they are such great help!”

So, if you’re considering studying in the Land Down Under, and you’ve got your eye on warm weather and a laid-back lifestyle, you’re already one step ahead on that path.

“Living in a country half way across the world can be hard at times but it is such an amazing, life-changing experience. I love the University of Sydney, and am so happy with my decision to come here!”

University of Sydney Master of Physiotherapy

Offered by the Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences, the two-year graduate-entry Master of Physiotherapy program is intended for students coming from an undergraduate degree in a related field and who wish to gain the requirements to become a physiotherapist.

Program: Master of Physiotherapy
Location: Lidcombe, (suburb of Sydney), New South Wales
Duration: 2 years
Semester intake: February
Application deadline: September 30, 2016


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