What is your current role?
I am currently working as an independent private practitioner; as a physiotherapist and yoga therapist. I work a couple of days from a private clinic room as a physio and yoga therapist and teach “Wellness Wednesday” yoga and Pilates classes to three different groups.
How did you get to where you are today?
From an early age I became fascinated with human movement and all the elements which contribute to it. I began studying dance from around age three and studied ballet, jazz and modern throughout my youth and continued with ballet up to my late teenage years. From this love of movement and observing the human body I became interested in a career in physiotherapy and directed my studies this way.
I graduated with a first-class honours degree in physiotherapy from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2001 and gained the Kistler prize for the highest overall year mark. Throughout my time at university I became interested in Karate and studied Tai Karate for 3 years which further augmented my love of human movement and sparked my interest in eastern philosophy. I was able to utilise this passion and studied the effects of karate training on hamstring flexibility in my undergraduate thesis.
My early career began in the hospital setting where I gained experience in numerous fields and realised that my passion remained in field of movement and exercise. I went on to study a post graduate master’s degree at the Universities of Glasgow, in Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. During this time, I further explored my interest in Ancient Eastern medicine and completed an acupuncture course which I then used in my Post graduate MSc thesis, studying the effects of acupuncture on muscle performance. I completed this degree in 2005 and started working full time in the musculoskeletal field.
When I got married in 2006, my husband and I travelled the world where were fortunate to dive to the depths of the ocean in the Maldives and Thailand and climb to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. During this time, I first embraced the use of the word Namaste and its many meanings. After our year travelling our passion for the outdoor life lead us to emigrate to Australia and I began studying Yoga and my love of yoga practice was established.
My own personal Yoga practice and its philosophies have got me through some difficult times and after having my first daughter, my priorities and attitude towards my career direction and life was challenged. I felt drawn to further study yoga and commenced my teacher training. I then went on to have another daughter and realized that I was naturally incorporating more and more yoga into my physio practice and decided to pursue a post graduate diploma in yoga therapy, I see many similarities between the ancient teaching of yoga and physiotherapy and realize how much the two disciplines complement each other. I now draw from my knowledge of both these areas to provide sound evidence-based practice of movement analysis and exercise prescription.
What made you choose that job specifically?
Working independently allows me to choose my work load, hours and to some degree my client base to fit around my family lifestyle and to best suit my treatment protocols. As a private practitioner I don’t have to adhere to busy clinic schedules and patient quotas and don’t have to feel like I am compromising client wellbeing. I am also very aware of the need for self-care and try to limit my patient exposure, so I do not burn out or become complacent. Teaching a few classes, a week also helps me to share my yoga and Pilates knowledge and help encourage safe and therapeutic exercise.
What are you passionate about in the work you do?
I am passionate in enabling and empowering my clients to take charge of their own health and to be able to self-manage (where able) their conditions. I love teaching people about the power they have to heal from within and to make the changes they need to promote wellbeing.
I am also passionate about “opening the doors” for clients towards some alternative ways of thinking or managing conditions. I will always value the need for Traditional Western medicine in health care, particularly in the acute stage but feel that the role of a more biopsychosocial approach to chronic management can achieve better outcomes. I also believe that thinking outside the box as a clinician expands your tool box and gives you more information and skills that you can disseminate to your clients.
Tell us about some positive changes in the health space that you have witnessed in your career? And what about negative changes?
A major positive change in my physio career, was when the NHS introduced direct access system in the UK for patients to directly contact physios rather than having to go through their GP. I was part of the trial process in Scotland back in 2005 and it provided a great opportunity to triage patients and get them seen at an appropriate time for their condition. I am a strong advocate for reducing misdiagnosis or over catastrophising a patient’s condition.
Over the years I have seen so many clients who have been told their back will break if they lift one more thing or they will end up a wheel chair if they do this or that which has lead them to chronic fear avoidance behaviour and negative thought patterns.
If we can reduce the number of scans, inappropriate referrals to specialists or over medicating we will also help to save the government money and prevent some drug dependence or pain behaviour.
Where do you see your part of the health space evolving to in the next 10 years?
I would hope that over the next decade alternative and allied health therapies will continue to become more accepted and that the necessary research to validate their existence will be more available.
I would hope that in the future referrals for alternative and allied health come more readily and that GPs and other persons working as a primary contact point will steer clients towards allied health rather than always following the traditional route.
What keeps you up at night? Is it a type of patient, a procedure or something else?
These days the only things that keep me up at night are my young children! I practice regular meditation and relaxation to avoid stressing over the inevitable or things I cannot change, so most of the time I sleep well.
Things that do concern me though are the increasing number of hours young people are spending on social media and on computer or phones.
As a physio, I already see the detrimental effects that these devices have on children’s postures and am concerned that we now see young children with neck and shoulder pain, along with a rise in obesity, Type II diabetes and reduced cardiovascular function, secondary to these sedentary habits.
Tales of cyber bullying in the media, along with increased reported stress levels in the youth and increased suicide rates simply terrifies me. I wonder how we have become a nation who can critic or judge people we may not even know. I hope that I can instil values of kindness and non-judgement into my children and hope that they spread the word and that this strange abusive behaviour is abolished.
The constant cyber “roaming” seems to govern everyone’s schedules and means that we get much less “down time” and our actions are constantly on display to and being analysed by others.
I also worry that even though we live in such a beautiful country with such vast outdoor space and activities on offer, many children are spending hours inside and not exercising in the fresh air or absorbing nature. This can only be detrimental for their health and in a modern society where we are supposed to be improving our health we seem to be traveling away from things that we should naturally be doing.
Tell us about a career highlight, maybe an event that felt like the culmination of everything in your career so far or a life changing event.
I think the birth of my children was a real game changer for me, it made me stop and evaluate what is important in life and take step back and reassess my journey. Ironically it was almost the end of my career, as initially I felt that I wanted to stop work and focus solely on the kids but then I realised the need to have that balance between being a mother and being an individual. So often life gets consumed by guilt, feeling like we “should” conform to certain stereotypes, like a devoted housewife/mother who gives up everything for her children. I really want to be a positive role model for my daughters and show them that you can work and still be a committed and content mum and wife. I am constantly modifying and changing commitments and reassessing priorities to achieve a happy work/life balance and am a great advocate of the phrase “working smarter rather than harder”.
I think having my yoga practice and incorporating my passion into my work allows me to achieve that and will hopefully still help to pay the mortgage!
You have a platform to share something with our audience now, what would you like to close our discussion with? How can our audience keep up with you or follow you?
Thank you for asking me to contribute to this article and I am excited about the future of health care.
Feel free to check out my web page on www.yogio.com.au