As a young physiotherapist I knew right from the beginning I wanted to become a women’s health physio. I have always been intensely passionate about women’s access to healthcare and felt that this little known corner of physiotherapy would suit me well. Sometimes I found it difficult to work out what was next in terms of courses or conferences and deciding when to pursue postgraduate study. As such, I thought it might be worthwhile to have available some of the info about various women’s health physio events and courses that I have attended. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s available in Australia but rather some of the things I’ve been to and can comment on. For those physios just starting out in this area this might be worth a read.
Do an introductory course!
Initially I attended the 5 day introductory women’s health physiotherapy course run by the hugely talented women’s health physiotherapist Taryn Hallam of Women’s Health Training Associates. This wonderful course gave me an overview of the bulk of what women’s health physios come across and how I might begin to tackle them.
Taryn has a comprehensive list of courses, from introductory through to advanced, women’s health and pelvic floor courses which run all throughout the year. She is wonderful at providing summaries of the most recent evidence and powering through a lot of content in a few short days. Clinically she works in the eastern suburbs of Sydney at Alana Healthcare and has a special interest in pelvic pain.
To check her out go to:
The Australian Physiotherapy Association also regularly run introductory women’s health physiotherapy short courses.
The Continence Foundation!
The Continence Foundation are a government run organisation that provide lots of free clinical resources, run a toll-free hotline manned by very experienced continence nurses, run numerous public information nights and put on an excellent yearly conference for health professionals. I have called their continence nurses to ask clinical advice countless times and always been greeted warmly and at times when working in the Northern Territory where I had little clinical support they were an excellent clinical resource. I have attended the conference a number of times now and always left feeling buoyed by my new knowledge and feeling of understanding of transdisciplinary issues within continence. This year the conference is in Sydney and will run from 25-28 November, 2017. Each year the Continence Foundation awards ten scholarships to physiotherapists and continence nurses working in continence to attend the conference. I was lucky enough to receive one of these scholarships in 2015.
Listen to a podcast!
I regularly listen to the pelvic health podcast with Antony Lo and Lori Forner who interview clinical experts in the field of pelvic health and pelvic floor health. They are an engaging team both working in this clinical area. It is for both health professionals and the general public.
To listen to the podcast: http://physiodetective.com/pelvic-health-podcast/
Do some clinical shadowing or find a mentor!
The field of women’s health physiotherapy can be daunting as often we don’t know what it entails and the prospect of this field of physiotherapy that deals with issues below the belt can be overwhelming if you’ve been treating hips and knees mostly. I am lucky enough to have had some great mentors in my time and was welcomed warmly by other pelvic health physiotherapists in letting me come in and spend time clinically shadowing them to understand what pelvic health looked like in practice. Almost everyone I have ever contacted has been receptive to me doing some clinical shadowing.
Take the leap and study a postgraduate degree in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy!
Last year I completed my Graduate Certificate in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne. The course is split in to three components- 2 subjects and a clinical placement. The introductory pelvic floor subject incorporates anatomy labs, practical vaginal assessment and assessment/treatment of common conditions relating to the bladder. The advanced pelvic floor subject deals with bowels, paediatrics, men and pelvic pain. Both subjects run in a two week intensive block on campus at Melbourne University. The quality of teaching is high, there are plenty of opportunities for interaction with professionals working in the field, the focus is on evidence based practice and you build a strong women’s health physiotherapy community to call on when you have tricky patients.
I completed my studies over 2 years and for me this was the better option as the academic load in terms of assignments after each subject is high- expect weeks of gruelling late nights. However, lots of the women completed the entire course in one month long block.
Course fees are Australian standard postgraduate level cost and I think it cost me about $10,000.