Day in the life of a Physiotherapist

What is Physiotherapy all about?

We interviewed Dr Augustine Aluko – on life as an expert physiotherapist.

Dr Aluko is an experienced Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist who provides expert evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. Augustine has experience in providing written reports and oral evidence in court, and he has been described as a credible expert on the stand.

Dr Augustine Aluko

Why did you want to become an expert physiotherapist?

I became a Physiotherapist because I was and remain interested in physics and how it applies to the human body, how the human body works and fails and the mechanisms by which any failure can be corrected. Physiotherapists are widely considered to be experts in human movement, so it was logical for me to follow that career pathway.

How long have you been an expert in the field of physiotherapy?

It was difficult to define myself as an Expert in Musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapy until I became comfortable in my understanding of the mechanisms of human movement and being able to constructively debate different concepts by which injury can occur. Understanding these mechanisms is fluid and never closed. However, although mileage in practice (I have 39 years…. and counting) is important, I was more at home debating my understanding once I attained my Doctorate when I truly appreciated the ability to constructively critique and analyse arguments based on empirical data.

What kind of education/training does your career require?

Physiotherapy training is at a degree level and starts with understanding the principles of human movement and function and how it applies across the broad spectrum of medical practice. The first degree takes 3-4 years (depending on the country of study). During which and for a few years afterwards Physiotherapist work within all fields on medical practice to hone the skills acquired before gradually narrowing down the focus of intended Specialism. At this point some Physiotherapists pursue MSc /M.Phil and later PhD educational levels.

What do you enjoy most about being a physiotherapist?

I enjoy being a Physiotherapist because it is stimulating, no two patients, let alone days are the same and every issue is multifactorial requiring expansive thinking to resolve. However, the most frustrating thing can be explaining to a patient that nothing can be done. This can be the hardest clinical call to make.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I mainly work in Primary care now as a First Contact Physiotherapist. Thos means that I see all Musculoskeletal problems in place of the GP. My typical day starts with a quick appraisal of my patient list to understand the patient mix and how I might be able to strategize my day. This is followed by face-to-face appointment interspersed with making referrals to Consultants, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Rheumatology and Neurology (to name a few), requesting X-rays and other clinical tests to enable me to make clinical judgements and liaising with GP on any complex issues that may prevail at the time.

What advice would you offer someone wanting to become a physiotherapist?

My advice to anyone who wants to be a Physiotherapist is firstly, make sure that it is for you. Contrary to belief, it is hard work at university and even harder work once you qualify and for little reward. Secondly and most importantly, do not try to cut corners by specialising too early; doing so increases the risk of making poor clinical judgment/decisions that may put you in a difficult place in future.


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