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Master of Science in Sportsphysiotherapy: my experience as a student

Stadelmann Diego
All-in-all Physiotherapie, 8050 Zürich (Oerlikon)

After obtaining my bachelor’s degree (BSc) in physiotherapy in September 2017 from the Haute Ecole de Santé Vaud ­(HESAV), I started my professional career working in a private practice in Fribourg. During the first years of working with patients I was able to discover the full scope of my profession: the importance of good care and especially the importance of physical health as an essential element of human well-being.
For two years I learned a lot, I was able to set up a working method and a clinical reasoning that suited me and corresponded to me, thanks in particular to the continuing education that I was able to follow. However, during these two years I was also able to become aware of my limits, the limits of my knowledge. I noticed that I was starting to go in circles, that my learning was «stagnating».
As a health care professional, and more specifically as a physiotherapist, I have a responsibility to the person who comes to me. In order to take this responsibility seriously, I felt the need and the desire to deepen my knowledge, to seek to improve myself. So I started looking for a way to develop my career in this direction and one question guided my thinking: what is the role of the physiotherapist?

Fig. 1: Isometric force measurements of the hip adductors as part of a master’s thesis.

Role of the physiotherapist

The role of the physiotherapist is to accompany the patients and to give them the keys to manage their problems in order to bring them as close as possible to their goal (and not his own!): It is a partnership. In concrete terms, this means that on one side, there is the patient, who is an integral part of the treatment and who is unique, with their beliefs, history and objectives. On the other hand, there is the physiotherapist, who must help the patient achieve their goals by accompanying the patient and proposing the most effective treatments.
The role of the physiotherapist is to accompany the patient and to give him/her the keys to manage his/her problems in order to bring him/her as close as possible to his/her goal (and not his own!): It is a partnership. In concrete terms, this means that on one side, there is the patient, who is an integral part of the treatment and who is unique, with his or her beliefs, history and objectives. On the other hand, there is the physiotherapist, who must help the patient achieve his or her goals by accompanying the patient and proposing the most effective treatments.

Offering the most effective treatments, what a challenge! How do I do it?

An undeniable tool is the scientific literature, which aims to research and prove the effectiveness of treatments, approaches, care, etc. The “evidence-based” is the solid base on which I can then build my practical experience. It is the most accessible tool we have to stay up to date, to keep learning. However, it is a very complex and difficult tool to master. So my intuition was to be more interested in this scientific side. I looked for training opportunities with this aspect in mind, but since physiotherapy is essentially a practical profession, I wanted to be able to go deeper into this side as well.
This fits in well with the Master of Science (MSc) in Physiotherapy offered by the Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (ZHAW). This program offers a comprehensive approach to different branches of physiotherapy through the scientific method, i.e. through reading, writing, research but also through practice.

Fig. 2: Practical part of the course “Training science and performance diagnostics”.

My experience in the MSc-Sports physiotherapy program

Given my passion and interest for the world of sports, I enrolled in this branch. It is a three-year course of study on the job (40% studies – 60% work). This allows the student to be economically independent, but above all to be able to put into practice what he has learned.
Personally, my assessment halfway through the program is very positive. Entering the world of research (which represents a large part of the program) is an extremely enriching experience, which allows me to discover and deepen my profession. It also allows me to develop a critical approach to literature.
The sport-specific part of the program develops the management and rehabilitation of the athlete in a more specific way, based on the injury healing phases, the specificities of the sport in question, and in line with the planning of the season. We also learn how to link scientific literature to practice, for example by conducting case studies.
In my opinion, the real added value of the MSc program lies in the master’s thesis, which provides a concrete insight, an immersion into the world of research. It is the possibility to learn from experienced researchers and to contribute to the development of this profession, to give it more value. The results of scientific research are indeed the calling card of the physiotherapy profession, they give it its legitimate value.
It is a demanding but very rewarding course because it allows me to leave my comfort zone and brings me an open mind and new inputs continuously. It also allows me to develop a professional network. As in many fields, the benefit is related to the personal involvement. And to be able to benefit from it, you have to be ready and motivated to devote time and energy to it.
In addition to possibly opening certain doors in the academic world (teaching, research, PhD, etc), embarking on such a path has allowed me to take seriously the person I am and therefore to grow professionally and personally as well as to be able to better treat my patients.
This is my experience; the master’s degree is obviously not the only way to seek professional and personal fulfillment, but it is the form that best suited me.

Corresponding author

Diego Stadelmann
BSc Physiotherapie
Am Glattbogen 171, 8050 Zürich
Mobile 078 691 37 80
E-Mail: jd.stadelmann@gmail.com

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