Making a difference through vocation and passion for social change

Physiotherapy graduate, Hamish Watkins, has secured a graduate position at Cairns Hospital. He commends Notre Dame's Physiotherapy degree for providing ample practicum opportunities

18 February 2015

A passion for regional and remote health care and enacting change for young people in those communities has seen School of Physiotherapy graduate of The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Hamish Watkins, secure the only graduate position at Cairns Hospital for 2015.

One of the largest hospitals in Queensland, Mr Watkins will spend the year completing rotations across different acute medical, rehabilitation and neurological wards, with a goal of establishing himself as well-rounded physiotherapist.

Having ample opportunities to consolidate theory in real-life scenarios was rewarding for Mr Watkins. He said Notre Dame's School of Physiotherapy worked extremely hard to ensure all students could be the best practitioners possible.

"The amount of practicum experience I received as part of my Notre Dame Physiotherapy degree was one of the reasons behind securing my current position at Cairns Hospital. I believe it was a combination of Notre Dame's learning experience; a commitment to rural health throughout my degree; and my willingness to take advantage of other service learning opportunities that helped me to stand out as an applicant," Mr Watkins said.

All Physiotherapy students at Notre Dame are required to undertake a minimum of 1000 hours of practicum as part of their degree. This ensures that Notre Dame's graduate physiotherapists have the best possible opportunity of securing employment and are adequately prepared for the rigorous demands of the vocation.

"We started our practical placements in the second year of our degrees, which meant that we had experience in hospital and community settings prior to commencing some of the more in-depth and targeted fields and practicum placements towards the end of our course," Mr Watkins said.

Whilst a Notre Dame student, Mr Watkins visited secondary school students in regional and remote Western Australia and presented on health vocations and university study as part of The Western Australian Allied Health Interested in Bush Experience Rural Health Club.

He also took on an active role with volunteer organisation Fair Game – a group that provides sporting equipment regional, remote and disadvantaged communities in WA, in addition to promoting healthy lifestyles and initiatives to its people. Mr Watkins has coordinated programs in the Wheatbelt region for the past two years.

"These programs and initiatives have fuelled my passion for encouraging others to take advantage of opportunities that present as they can often be some of the most rewarding experiences of your life," Mr Watkins said.

"I have had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people, helping others and making a difference to the community I live in."

Associate Professor Jo Connaughton, Clinical Education Coordinator in the School of Physiotherapy, said Mr Watkins was an outstanding ambassador for the School and the University, and personified the practical outcomes of the Physiotherapy course in the community.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;