Olivia Isbey

Olivia Isbey

Core 2 Rotational Physiotherapist, Auckland District Health Board
Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)

She was familiar with the work of physiotherapists from an early age, says Olivia Isbey who completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) in 2018.

“As a former competitive tennis player with numerous injuries, I was introduced to physiotherapy from a young age, and I admired the knowledge and skill of the physiotherapists that I worked with. Their input was invaluable in my rehabilitation and getting me back to playing tennis after my many injuries and surgeries.”

With her sights set firmly on a career around tennis, little did Olivia know that physiotherapy would play an even bigger role in her future.

“After I finished high school, I left the country for the USA to play college tennis and study on a scholarship. However, due to multiple surgeries with poor outcomes, I decided to give up my scholarship and return to New Zealand to study physiotherapy at AUT. I knew that AUT was renowned for its physiotherapy degree, and the programme had also been recommended to me by several former AUT students.”

Life-long friendships and valuable experiences
The people she met were the highlight of her time at AUT, says Olivia who received the AUT Fran Elkin Physiotherapy Prize for the Best Overall Student in the Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) in 2018.

“Throughout the physiotherapy degree, I felt challenged by the content but also supported by the lecturers to learn and develop my knowledge, clinical reasoning and practical skills. They were personable and helped to bring the content to life by sharing their own experiences, as well as providing practical guidance during the lab sessions.

“Another highlight were the lifelong friends I made. Within the physiotherapy degree, you work closely with your classmates – especially in the lab sessions – so it’s quite natural to develop strong friendships. It was invaluable having friends to grow and study with as we progressed through the degree.”

She also appreciated the clinical placements that are part of the physiotherapy degree; crediting them with helping her get to where she is today.

“The clinical placements gave me the opportunity to put my study into practice, working directly with patients while being supported by my experienced supervisors. It was during these placements that I truly came to appreciate the role and specialised set of skills that physiotherapists bring to healthcare. These placements strongly influenced my decision to join the District Health Board after graduation.”

A passion for meeting patients’ needs
Since completing her studies at AUT, Olivia now enjoys working as a physiotherapist for the Auckland District Health Board, helping patients optimise their movement and function at home and in the community.

“My job involves working within a multidisciplinary team to provide care for a diverse range of patients across the Auckland District Health Board. Thus far, patients have included neurology, amputee and geriatric populations, among others. Our physiotherapy sessions take place either in the patient’s home or at our clinic gym, and are a combination of face-to-face and telehealth interactions.

“I enjoy working alongside other health professionals to best meet the needs of our patients. Being surrounded by passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable colleagues has provided me with a good base, which was particularly important when I was a new graduate.”

While there are many aspects she loves about her job, being involved in the rehabilitation journey of her community rehabilitation patients has been the highlight for Olivia.

“It has been both a challenge and privilege to work with these patients as they transition from hospital to life at home following a notable medical event such as a stroke or an amputation. To see them progressing towards and achieving short and long-term goals is its own reward. For example, I’ll always remember the cool moment when our rehabilitation helped a spinal cord injury patient take her first steps on a walking frame since her injury.”

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