From TAFE to university

Some of the cool places you can do placement at in podiatry.

Some of the cool places you can do placement at in podiatry.

A question I get asked often when I tell someone I’ve been studying for over six years is, “Why go through all that effort, all the stress and all that time?”. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve asked myself that question over the years. You could say my original plan went slightly off the rails, and by slightly, I mean over five extra years of study off the rails. When I finished high school in 2008, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I loved sports and thought something in that industry would be great. I started work at Amart Sports at the end of 2008 which filled my gap year. I didn’t know at the time that this would have a big influence on my future study choice.

I decided to do a Certificate III and IV in Fitness at Southbank Institute of Technology (SBIT). This is when my plan went off the rails. At the start of my Cert IV in Fitness I wanted to work as a personal trainer on a cruise ship, in order to see the world. Then after working as a personal trainer for a few years, I’d go and study exercise science at university. That was the plan, and the plan never goes according to plan.

Half way through my Cert IV in Fitness, I found out about the Diploma of Fitness course, and I liked what I read. It was more clinical based training for clients with shoulder pain, back pain, knee pain, etc., and it wasn’t just about making quick money which personal training can be known for.

I decided I’d go on and do the Diploma of Fitness in 2011. It was another year of full time study, however I thought it was another qualification, and a good one at that. I wanted more knowledge than what the Cert IV provided, because I just didn’t want to be good, I wanted to be very good in a particular area, and that was injury rehabilitation. At the start of the year I planned on going to university after my diploma to do a degree in exercise science. It’s the natural progression isn’t it? My dream (as many people have who choose to study exercise science) was to work with elite athletes and sports teams around strength and conditioning and rehabilitation.

It wasn’t until half way through my diploma I started to question my choice. Is exercise what I really want to do? More importantly, what are the job opportunities like, and what else could I study?

One day I was browsing the QUT health science courses and saw podiatry. I must admit I had never heard of a podiatrist and had no clue what they did, but when I read they specialised in the lower limb I thought “Win! I can specialise in a particular area of the body”. Having worked at Amart Sports in footwear (the big influence), this had already given me a keen interest in shoes.

At this point I thought why not? It’s a unique profession that has a lot of variety (besides cutting toenails). This seemed like the opportunity to become proficient in sports medicine, which might open more doors than working as an exercise physiologist.

After I finished my diploma I went back to SBIT and worked as a tutor/clinic supervisor for a year.

My education journey in shirt form.

My education journey in shirt form.

I started podiatry back in 2012 and it’s been an interesting ride. What made me choose university all the way back then? I want to do something meaningful in life. I want to help others through health, and I want to be the best I can be to do that. I want to be the person who makes the important decisions around someone’s relevant healthcare, rather than be the one who has to let someone else do it. I want that sense of responsibility which is why I chose a health science degree.

If no one in your family has gone to university, don’t be afraid to be the first (I was), and don’t be afraid to change the original plan.

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