Sports Physiotherapy Specialist, Crusaders & Canterbury Rugby
Master of Health Science with Honours (First Class)
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science in Western Acupuncture
Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)
He feels fortunate to work full-time in professional sport, says AUT physiotherapy alumnus Neil Tucker who has been working for the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby for the last 10 years, and has recently become a sports physiotherapy specialist.
“My role with the Crusaders is to manage our athletes who can’t play rugby due to their injury status. Through the Canterbury season I act as the lead physiotherapist for the Canterbury NPC team. I’m grateful that my job has taken me around the world. I’ve been lucky enough to work with winning teams in professional sport and I don’t take that for granted.
“I’m rewarded by seeing others succeed and how they show us that we’re capable of so much more. The biggest challenge in this profession is to keep developing your skillset as the research in sports medicine is developing all the time. Get better or get beaten!”
Newly recognised as a sports physiotherapy specialist, he is looking forward to helping develop sport physiotherapy in New Zealand.
“I’m just starting as a sports physiotherapy specialist but I’m hoping to develop how sportspeople with injuries are managed in New Zealand. I’d also like to help grow other therapists’ skillsets in this area.”
Good memories of university
For Neil, enrolling in AUT’s Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) was the first step towards the career he has today.
“I was uncertain in my final year of school what to do after school. Physiotherapy was attractive to me as it combined the academic side of a science degree with a high practical component. AUT was the best option for me as I grew up in Auckland, and had the support structures to help me through university with family and friends around. One highlight for me was going to Vancouver as a representative for AUT for my fourth-year clinical placement. This was definitely an awesome adventure.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree in 2001, Neil returned to AUT a few more times between 2004 and 2006 to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science in Western Acupuncture, Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy and a Master of Health Science.
“What I enjoyed most about my postgraduate study was refining my clinical reasoning skills. There was a lot of exposure to expert clinicians, both in class and during clinical placements. The amount of collaborative learning and experience from my classmates created some great discussions and showed me the different lenses other therapists view our profession through.
“I was fortunate with my clinical placements and my experiences through them set me up for my career path. I also enjoyed the challenge of writing a thesis. My master’s degree taught me skills like academic writing and how to critically review literature, and improved my understanding of my learning style and my strengths and weaknesses.”
A solid foundation
Neil says he believes his studies gave him a sound foundation for his career now.
“My postgraduate qualification set me up well to place value in ongoing education through the course of my career. My clinical placements gave me a great foundation and early confidence that the skills we have as physiotherapists can greatly affect health and quality of life in New Zealand.”
He has some great advice for others who are considering becoming a specialist physiotherapist one day.
“The physiotherapists I’ve looked up to through my career have all had three main qualities: genuine experience and success in their area of interest, the ability to communicate and share their knowledge in very practical manner, and a curiosity to always improve themselves as a person and clinician. I think having development goals to grow each of those areas would set you up on a good development path to become a physiotherapy specialist.”