Rehab Cell

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy – Dr Nicola Heneghan

MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy – Dr Nicola Heneghan


My name’s Nicola Heneghan, I’m the Programme
Lead for the MSc postgraduate diploma Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy. I think what makes this programme unique is
that it is a practice based programme but it is set within a Russell Group, a red brick
university, so research underpins every aspect of our programme from the basics, looking
at research design and research skills. But then really with students, with their practical
experience and their knowledge, looking at the evidence that they’re drawing on to
support their practice and through the programme they’re expected to look at the research
evidence, to perhaps look at the knowledge and the learning, but always within a framework
of research underpinning practice, skills and knowledge. This programme’s aimed for individuals who
are practising as Physiotherapists within a musculoskeletal setting. They may come from
a UK healthcare setting or overseas and it’s for individuals looking to advance their practice
or consolidate skills within musculoskeletal manipulative physiotherapy with a view to
perhaps career enhancement, moving into advanced practice settings, consultancy, or even with
a view to becoming research active within the field of musculoskeletal physiotherapy. The programme is very varied and it’s done
with a view to where this programme’s going to take individuals. The programme is structured
in a way that students can do some components at a distance, so the research methods module
can be taken either face-to-face within the university or at a distance and supported
through our virtual learning environment. Likewise the specialist blocks, the specialist
manipulative physiotherapy modules, they are packaged in three day blocks and what this
allows is for cohesion around units of learning but then with space between these blocks to
allow students to go away, perhaps do some of their own self-directed learning and preparation
for the next block. Within the programme they have the opportunity to choose a module, an
option module, and this may be taken from our diverse offering of modules within sport,
nutrition, psychology, etc. And the selection there is something that the programme lead
can guide a student with to make sure that their option module fits their professional
development. At the end of the taught components, students have an opportunity to go and do
a period of clinical mentor practice which allows them to go into a practice based setting
and to work with an experienced mentor to challenge and apply knowledge and skills in
a practice based setting with patients with musculoskeletal dysfunction and that part
of the programme really brings everything together to then allow them to get to the
point that they’ve got the postgraduate diploma and then become a member of the MACP.
Students then may choose to go on to do the dissertation, which most of our students do,
and we’re able to offer them a diverse range of projects. If they’re coming from a sponsor
they may choose that they do a project that their sponsor requests, but likewise we have
a strong thriving community of research active staff who can support students in undertaking
lab based projects or systematic reviews that will help them to understand research methods,
but also then add to the evidence base that’s growing within this field. Many of our students will go on to then publish
their research either in peer review journals or perhaps at conference presentations, which
is always really lovely to see. The aims of the programme are to allow individuals
from wherever their practice is currently, be it as a junior physio or someone working
perhaps in a sports setting or military setting, to come in and to critically reflect on their
practice and then through the advancement of new knowledge, research skills, is to develop
their practice within a framework of clinical reasoning, so that they can then consider
advancement in their careers professionally. We find a lot of students completing the programme
will go on to become a consultant physio, take on advanced practice roles, perhaps clinical
specialists, or some look to then integrate both a combination of their clinical skills
and research to be undertaking research within a clinical setting. This course has now been running for a number
of years. It’s got a very dedicated and committed staff group contributing to the
programme. Being based within the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
gives a rich and diverse learning experience for students. The programme itself is externally
validated by the MACP and IFONT and I think with the support that we can give individuals
coming to the University of Birmingham to this School, then they will have every opportunity
to aspire to advanced practice positions and enhance career development. What I love is that the students come in with
a wealth of experience, clinical experience, and the opportunity to spend time with them
exploring their practice and challenging their ideas and their clinical reasoning, to see
them evolve as specialist expert practitioners, it’s fun. The students are enthusiastic,
they come from a diverse background and just having that time and opportunity to support
them with their own development is just a privilege to be part of.

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