Rotational Physiotherapist, Waikato District Health Board
Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)
Seeing the change and progression for patients is rewarding, says Terence Pohatu Waikite Thornton Apiata who is now a physiotherapist at the Waikato District Health Board.
“As a rotational physiotherapist, my job requires me to change wards every four months. I’m currently working in the older persons’ rehab ward, and the job involves completing initial assessments and mobilising patients to complete their exercise programmes.
“I’m also involved with patients’ discharge planning and figuring out how safe they are to return home or if we should explore other options. If patients are having issues with phlegm retention in their lungs, I also assist and teach them how to manage this. What I love most about this role is seeing the joy of patients who had been bed bound when they start walking around independently.”
Terence loves being able to make a difference to people’s lives.
“I’m proud of being Māori and being able to make a difference for our whānau and community. But I’m most proud of putting in the mahi at university to now be able to live out my dream job as a physiotherapist.”
Supported to thrive
Like many physiotherapy students, Terence was inspired to consider a career in physiotherapy after being treated by a physiotherapist for a shoulder injury when he was in high school.
“They talked to me in detail about the role of a physiotherapist, and I instantly felt a connection with the profession and it sparked my interest. I had a passion for helping people and felt this pathway could be a suitable profession for me. I also saw the inequities Māori faced and felt that as a young Māori male I could give back to my community and people by working as a physiotherapist.”
He thoroughly enjoyed studying physiotherapy at AUT, says Terence whose studies were supported by a Norske Skog Scholarship and a Hauora Māori Scholarship.
“I built lifelong friendships/relationships at AUT which I will cherish forever. I was able to meet a lot of people from near and far through various conferences and social gatherings. I was privileged enough to be a part of the AUT Māori association Titahi Ki Tua, which was a home away from home for me and a big part of my journey within university.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Office of Maori Advancement as if it wasn’t for my whaea Colleen I wouldn’t be a qualified physiotherapist. She assisted me in my application for physiotherapy and I’m nothing but grateful to her. The whānau room on the North Campus was always a safe space for me to study, eat, wananga and chill if I needed to. I’m also grateful for the support from Trent Dallas and whaea Tammi, from signing documents so I could receive scholarships to receiving countdown vouchers or enjoying a free breakfast in the whānau room. I’m eternally grateful and appreciative of the Office of Māori Advancement.”
Advice for other students
Terence’s advice for other students is simple: make use of all the services available to students.
“The support services are there to support you through one of the most fun and challenging times of your life. If you’re a Māori student, get to know the whānau at the Māori Liaison Services – they’ve got your back. If you’re a physio student, get to know the lecturers. They’re there to help you learn so don’t be shy to email them.”
Don’t forget to have fun, he adds.
“Make friends, socialise and get as much experience as you can. I now have lifelong friends thanks to my time at uni. But also do the mahi. As cliché as it sounds, you have to put in the work otherwise you don’t get the treats.”