With a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and first-class honours degree in Physiotherapy from Cardiff University, Rhys has become a full-time sports specialist physiotherapist over the last decade. He is now undertaking the MSc in Sport and Exercise Physiotherapy at Cardiff University School of Healthcare Sciences.
Here he discusses with us his course, impressive career and current projects …
What programme are you are currently studying?
I am currently in the process of writing up my research project for my MSc Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy at Cardiff University.
What effect have your studies had on your career so far?
Without a doubt, my experiences at Cardiff have had an impact on my career. The quality of the degree programmes I have undertaken at Cardiff has equipped me with the necessary skills to continue my own learning and to work competently and confidently as a qualified physiotherapist. It was no surprise to me when The School of Healthcare Sciences was awarded the title ‘best place to study physiotherapy in the UK’.
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
There was no choice to make regarding where I was going to undertake my postgraduate degree – I simply went to the best place.
Can you tell us a little more about your career?
As a newly-qualified physiotherapist I was fortunate to gain employment within Cardiff and Vale NHS trust, and spent the next five years rotating through the various disciplines the profession has to offer.
In 2007, a friend and I started a private physiotherapy company and started to specialise in outpatient physiotherapy, where patients come for assessment and treatment for musculoskeletal aches and pains – and, more importantly, sports injuries.
In 2009 I gained full-time employment with British Swimming, helping to look after the senior British team at camps and competitions, including the daily training environment. Once in this job, I was immediately at home working in the performance environment. I never looked back. Over the next four years, I attended two world championships with British Swimming; the Commonwealth Games with Team Wales and I was very proud to be selected to attend the London Olympics as part of Team GB. In addition to these benchmark competitions, I have attended multiple national and international competitions with the team and loved every second of every experience. My role also required me to work with Sport Wales and British Disability Swimming, looking after their key athletes. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity.
I took on a Lead Physiotherapy role with Swim Wales alongside my British Swimming work, and to this date I still oversee physiotherapy services for Swim Wales on a weekly basis. In addition, I am currently the Lead Physiotherapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach for Ebbw Vale RFC.
Can you tell us a little more about your current projects?
I have recently accepted a post with Cardiff University School of Healthcare Sciences, where I am studying for my MSc, and am very excited to be involved in setting up and running our new ‘Inspire Performance’ Sports Injury service in Cardiff.
I’m also currently heading up a practical CPD project working with PE staff from certain schools, titled: ‘How to help your students look after their bodies during exercise’. The project is related to delivery of educational materials to teachers. The content is focusing on techniques and strategies that those involved in sport can use and employ to assist preparation and recovery, and improve movement understanding and quality. Improving this knowledgebase with teachers will allow them to instil good habits in students, increasing enjoyment of and lifelong participation in sport.
In addition to this engagement project, I’m delivering a number of additional seminars and workshops to the sporting sector and newly-qualified physiotherapy/strength and conditioning professionals. The emphasis here is on performance enhancement and injury prevention.
I’m also attending the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, with the rest of the staff from the Inspire Performance clinic.
Can you tell us a little more about the Inspire Performance clinic you run within the University?
My Inspire Performance role involves running and developing this private, public-facing physiotherapy clinic as the lead physiotherapist. The clinic, which specialises in sports physiotherapy, boasts a specialist team including Cardiff University’s Nicola Phillips, who has attended more Olympic and Commonwealth Games than I have had hot dinners!
Do you have any advice for prospective postgraduate students?
I would recommend in the first instance that you spend some time experiencing all the profession has to offer. My time as a rotational physiotherapist in the NHS provided me with many transferable skills that I would have missed had I tried to specialise too soon. I do not regret waiting for a while before choosing my Postgraduate course because when I started the course, I had a direct intent and expectation that has allowed me to maximise the gains from my MSc.
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