College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

3 December 2021

Related Study Areas

Clinical placements and volunteer patient experiences

For fourth-year physiotherapy student, Keiran Jurd, the variety and volume of his placement experiences have helped him to feel confident to graduate and hit the ground running as a newly-minted health professional.

“At JCU, we start our placements in the second half of third-year rather than having to wait till fourth-year as most of the other universities do,” Kieran says.  “By having that opportunity to practice earlier, throwing us in the deep end early so to speak, you finish up being just that little bit more prepared for when you graduate.”

Kieran’s placements have included a stint at the orthopaedics ward at the Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane, as well as placements at the Gold Coast, Cairns, Rockhampton and in the small North Queensland town of Ayr.

“It was great to have the opportunity to work with so many different people and population groups, working from paediatrics to the elderly, and from athletes to your weekend footy player. There's just such a variety of what you can do with physiotherapy.”

Standout experiences

It was his placement experience in his rural hometown of Ayr that Kieran says was especially valuable.

“I was expecting the hospital in Ayr to be a bit slow, but I was very wrong. It was actually really busy as there's only one physio in the hospital covering both inpatients and outpatients. I managed to learn the most from this placement because you have to be such a generalist; You've got to have knowledge ranging from paediatrics to musculoskeletal disorders to geriatrics.”

Another standout experience for Kieran was his first placement experience, at the orthopaedics ward at Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

“There was one patient that I'll never forget, because he had such an impact on me too. It was a 12-year-old boy who had major surgery for a slipped upper femoral epiphysis, which meant he had to be non-weight bearing in a wheelchair for 12 months. He was really withdrawn at first, but over time he warmed up to me and would want to race in the hallway in his wheelchair or go outside to shoot basketball together.”

“I actually had no idea physios were in hospitals before starting my studies, and it really opened my eyes as to how important physios can be for a patient’s recovery.”

Kieran also says he feels well-equipped and graduate ready thanks to the numerous volunteer patient experiences that have featured throughout the JCU physiotherapy degree.

“Starting from first-year, after learning about massage we are paired up with another student to get some experience at the JCU massage clinic. Then in third-year, we had volunteer patients coming in for our neurology subject, post stroke patients, for example, and we were able to work with them. Learning from those types of patients before we went on placement later in third-year was really beneficial. I have also been on observational placements at the JCU musculoskeletal clinic where we got to shadow the fourth year students and do some treatments with them.”

Kieran Jurd walks patient to exercise room.
Kieran Jurd assists patient in stretching.
Featured: Kieran Jurd assists a client. (Copyright James Cook University.)

Motivated to pursue physiotherapy

Kieran says it was his love of playing sport, which later resulted in an injury requiring ongoing physio, that set him on a path to a career in physiotherapy.

“I used to play a lot of sport and saw a lot of physios over the years through injuries, including six years of rehabilitation. I developed a real interest in the body and started to think that being a physiotherapist was something that I might be really suited for“ Kieran says.

“Even though I wasn’t successful at first in getting into the physio course, I still did a year of Occupational Therapy and fortunately got high enough marks to be accepted into physio after that.”

Hailing from the Burdekin region, Kieran was also motivated by the need for more rural and remote towns to offer physiotherapy services.

“I'm from Ayr, which is quite a remote place, so I was always traveling to Townsville to see a physio for my injuries. Part of my goal now is to work in those places that have limited or no access to any physio treatments.”

“Studying physiotherapy has really opened my eyes to what we can actually do and how important we can be for a patient’s journey to recovery.”

JCU Physiotherapy Student Kieran Jurd

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