Most days Matthew Hutchins barely has time to squeeze in lunch but he says he doesn’t care as he loves his job as a physiotherapist.
The 29-year-old works at Melita Parsons Physiotherapy and treats up to fourteen people a day. “I also work in two private hospitals as well as rooms [at the practice],” Mr Hutchins said. “Lunch is often in the car between hospitals but I always have it, I need it!”
Mr Hutchins treats many different types of muscular, skeletal and posture-related problems although his specific focus is respiratory conditions.
“A lot of the people have chest-related problems like cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis. I’m an asthmatic myself and have had it all my life. I know what breathing difficulties are like and what it is to be able to breathe. I get a buzz from being able to help people and hear them say ‘I can breathe properly’,” said Mr Hutchins.
“As soon as a person walks through the door I am assessing them. We take a subjective examination to get an understanding of their problem then we do an objective test such as a range of mobility before getting into the treatment,” he said. Treatment usually involves specific exercises.
“I don’t like giving pills and recipes. I like to educate people and tell them why they are doing the exercise because I find their compliance is much higher.”
In addition to a willingness to educate people, Mr Hutchins said other important qualities for a physio include empathy and a sense of humour to help put people at ease.
Physiotherapy is Mr Hutchins’ second career. He started as an anaesthetic technician, which according to the Jobs Guide 2006 requires a Diploma of Anaesthetic Technology as an entry point. Mr Hutchins went back to complete a Bachelor of Exercise Science then a Master of Physiotherapy, both at Griffith University.
During his studies, he was a volunteer and student representative for the Australian Physiotherapy Association before joining them as a Queensland Branch Councillor when he graduated last year.
“The APA has helped me because of the professional development they offer. They help students meet the right people and make them more aware of their career opportunities,” Mr Hutchins said. He joined private practice in January.
The APA offers professional development courses to all its members as well as access to the latest research and physiotherapist journals on the APA website. Students can join free during their first two years of study and the professional development program offers the chance for them to hear experienced physiotherapists talk about their work. For more information visit http://apa.advsol.com.au/.
By Zsa-Zsa Bowie Wilson, careerone.com.au, June 2006.