Andy Barker, Head Physio at Leeds Rhinos tells us how he secured his job through doing a placement while studying Physiotherapy at Bradford.
"I'm the Head Physiotherapist for the Leeds Rhinos, so my job is to look after the Rhinos side of things in the Physiotherapy Department. So that's sort of assessing, treating and rehabbing up all the injured players. I initially got a post upon qualifying as the assistant physiotherapist then I was promoted last Autumn to the head post. So it's a really good place to work and I'm really enjoying it.
I originally applied to study physiotherapy when I was 18, so when I was at Sixth Form, and got no offers of any courses. So I ended up doing another degree up at another university not too far from here, and then off the back of that I then reapplied to do physiotherapy and it was Bradford I chose to study at. Probably the main reason at the time that I went to study was that they had the highest employment rate for physiotherapy in the north of England, which was a pretty big draw for me. Physiotherapy is a really hard profession to get into in the first place, and obviously upon qualifying it's probably even more difficult to get a post so that was probably the big turn for me really.
As part of the physiotherapy degree at Bradford we do an elective placement, which I'm sure they still do now and actually got the opportunity to come down here and work with the physios then at the time, and upon that placement I actually got asked to come back, so we did a 3 week elective placement, then the guys down here asked me to come back on a volunteer basis really but working with the first team, and it sort of snowballed from there really. Over the next year at uni, in my third year, I was probably getting more and more input and more and more exposure to this environment and then towards the back end of my third year I got offered the post of the assistant first team physio.
All the skills that I learned during my studies at Bradford put me in really good stead to start working here and ultimately the skills that I had learned during my undergraduate study obviously were enough to impress the guys at the time when I was down here on the elective placement which ultimately got me a job offer. So all the assessment, all the treatment stuff and how to rehab-up a person regardless of what sort of setting obviously stood me in really good stead to come down on that placement.
The practical element of the degree was really good. I know at Bradford we did a massage module which I felt was really really good and really good to get hands-on treatment early in the first year of the course which I know some universities don't do, and in my experience of now having students come on placement with us, I think that skills set often puts them way above students from other universities, having that hands-on knowledge and approach to treatment.
I know that a lot of the tutors there still do work in a lot of different clinical environments and I thought that was real helpful. In particular Hillary Pape, who I know worked within rugby league, and obviously I used to ask her quite a lot of questions and my background itself, growing up and supporting sport is predominantly in rugby league. So a lot of her case studies, for me personally, were in rugby league. So that probably was highly appropriate for myself and highly appropriate for this sort of job really.
For me, people should consider studying at the University of Bradford. They've got great academic support and great teaching staff who in their respective fields have worked at some great places and they want to pass their knowledge on to students. I'm really happy with where I am at the minute, it's probably my dream job. I've grown up supporting rugby league, I'm a Leeds lad through-and-through so obviously to be working and be the Head Physio at the sports club and the sports team that I support is unreal really. I've not really thought long-term where I'd like to get to but ultimately where I am now I'm more than happy and I can see myself being here for a few years to come."