Program teaches new physios patient ‘instincts’

Ruby Martin and Luke Sarlanis are on St Stephen’s Hospital’s post-graduate physiotherapy program

A new program is giving physiotherapy graduates the chance to develop their skills at regional and metropolitan hospitals – as well as attracting skilled allied healthcare workers to Queensland’s Fraser Coast.

St Stephen’s Hospital launched the year-long scheme in early 2022, with participants spending a six-month rotation at the private facility in Hervey Bay and the remainder at one of owner UnitingCare’s larger Brisbane locations – The Wesley, or St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital.

“Each hospital rotation will help the physiotherapists to develop different skill sets,” said St Stephen’s Hospital’s Allied Health Manager, Natasha Holland.

“Regional hospitals often provide a more generalist experience for health professionals, and the opportunity to delve into more skills by caring for a broad range of patients,” she added.

“While in Brisbane, the graduates will likely experience patients who are more seriously ill and may begin specialising their skills in a particular area.”

Ruby Martin, originally from Cairns, is among the first graduates to take part in the program.

“When I first started, it felt like a real jump from university! But training at St Stephen’s has taught me to think quickly on my feet and it’s helping me to develop my physio instincts, which you just can’t learn through theory in the classroom,” she said.

“The first three months of my placement at St Stephen’s involved caring for acute patients, including many who had orthopaedic surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements.

“Next I moved into our rehabilitation unit where I have been working with patients recovering from a range of illnesses, injuries and surgeries.”

In her Brisbane rotation, Ms Martin hopes to gain experience providing physiotherapy treatments for seriously ill patients requiring intensive care – an area she would like to specialise in.

She said she had enjoyed life in Hervey Bay, where the program provides accommodation for the graduates to reduce financial pressures.

“I had never been to Hervey Bay before starting at St Stephen’s, but having now been here for six months, I absolutely love it!” Ms Martin said.

“I often run into my patients at the shops, and it’s just been a wonderful experience not only for my career but also within the local community.

“From the get-go, I’ve felt so welcomed and supported. I feel so lucky every day to have this opportunity and to be doing what I’m doing, living and working here in Hervey Bay.”

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