Physiotherapy a great option for a dynamic and caring career


Physiotherapist Sara Allen found a way to combine her love of sport and her love of working with people.

John-Paul Foliaki: So I’m here with Sara Allen and we’re going to be talking about the world of work.

Sara Allen: I think physio is a great job because there’s so many different areas. A lot of people think just physio is just doing like sports injuries, but actually we go into a whole lot of different areas. Your skills can kind of cross over multiple groups and it’s neurological disorders, into the heart and lung problems, breathing problems, physical kind of musculoskeletal problems. And what you’ll be doing might be slightly different for each patient but I guess the programme that we get taught is all about how we can adapt to suit the different needs of different people.

So I’ve always been quite active and played a lot of sports when I was younger so I was always in and out of the physio clinic. I always thought it looked like quite a cool, practical job being quite hands-on and active and I’ve always liked sort of working with people.

John-Paul Foliaki: Any subjects that you needed to take?

Sara Allen: Yep, so at school I took a few sciences. So I did biology and physics which I think really helped and I always did like PE and was into that. I think it helps to have an interest in the way the human body works and moves and that’s the physics side of it. If you had interests like that I’m sure that would help you to go on and study in this area.

John-Paul Foliaki: What are some of the coolest things about your job?

Sara Allen: My favourite part is meeting new people, and really seeing that change that difference you can make in people’s lives. And following them through that long process back to health is definitely the best part of the job.

Love of sport leads to physiotherapy career

Sarah Allen’s passion for sports and caring for others led her to an exciting career in physiotherapy.

“I always liked working with people and looking after them, and because I played a lot of sports and was in and out of physio clinics I thought it looked like a fun, dynamic and hands-on job. This moulded my choice to go down a health science pathway.”

Fascinated by the way the body works?

If you’re looking at a career in physiotherapy, Sara says “it helps to have an interest in the way the human body works and moves. At school I took a few sciences, I did biology and physics which I think really helped, and I always did PE.”

After applying for nursing and sport and recreation it was physio that won her over. Straight from school at 18, Sara made up her mind to study physio and she has no regrets.

Turning people’s lives around is the best part

Seeing the difference she can make in people’s lives is what Sara enjoys most about her work. “Meeting the clients and following them through that long process back to health, that’s definitely the best part of the job.”

Wide scope of physiotherapy practice

Sara also likes that you can use your physio skills to help people with a wide range of conditions.

“A lot of people think it’s just about rehabilitating sports injuries or working with sports teams, but your skills can be adapted to meet the needs of people with neurological disorders, heart, lung, breathing and muscoskeletal problems.”

She’s also seen physios transition into roles like personal training, which sit outside the traditional field of practice.

Specialising in rehabilitation

In the nine years since graduating, Sara has specialised in rehabilitation in private practice and hospitals. There she is focused on Pilates-based exercise rehab for people with chronic pain, and orthopaedics helping people who’ve had hip, joint and shoulder surgery become independent again.

Now in a teaching role at AUT, Sara’s physio skills have grown with the introduction of a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation clinic for people with heart and lung problems. And she’s involved in group exercise programmes for the elderly, including hydrotherapy.

“Once you work in physio you can constantly expand on your skills, so you need to be open to challenging yourself over the course of your career.”

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Updated 23 Jan 2019