My Portobello Journey – Sean Moriarty, BSc in Sports Therapy to Physiotherapy
For Dublin native, Sean Moriarty, sport had always been his main passion. Frequent injuries growing up meant that the physio clinic was an environment that became quite familiar for him. Spending time with various clinicians ignited a keen interest in the discipline of physiotherapy.
Sean took that interest with him throughout his school years. When it came to doing his Leaving Cert, the goal was to study physiotherapy at university. Unfortunately, Sean didn’t meet the steep points required to enrol in any of the physiotherapy courses available in Ireland. He instead studied Spanish and Economics, which he ultimately decided were not for him.
“I accepted a place in UCD, studying Spanish and Economics. After two years I dropped out. It wasn’t the course for me. I didn’t like it at all.
“I started working full-time. After a year I looked into returning to studies,” he said.
After already going to university and doing a course he didn’t have a passion for, Sean went back to his roots. With physiotherapy being the goal, he went about researching alternative ways that he could achieve his dream job.
“I came across a PLC that was called Pre-University Physiotherapy, in Coláiste Íde in Dublin. I got accepted into that, thankfully,” Sean said.
Sean is not the first to come from Coláiste Íde, with many students coming from their pre-university physiotherapy course and availing of advanced entry into the second year of the BSc in Sports Therapy.
“Whilst studying [in Coláiste Íde], I heard about Sports Therapy in Portobello Institute.
“I went through the interview and application process there. I was offered advanced entry into the second year. That was subject to my results in the PLC,” he said.
There were many aspects of the course that Seán enjoyed but for him, the standout was the practical side of the course, something that he says has really stood to him.
“Studying Sports Therapy in Portobello, it is a really practical course.
“We had weekly practical therapy classes. These covered assessment and treatment techniques along with how to diagnose common injuries seen either in a clinic or on a pitch.
“We also had regular sports physiology labs in DCU. All of this combined with smaller class sizes, really made sure we were maximising the time that we had while we were in college
“We were also given the opportunity to complete extra courses as well. Things like taping and strapping, pitchside first aid. Two very important things if you want to end up working pitchside. We also did a dry needling and massage course as well,” he said.
The smaller and more concentrated classes are something that students have really enjoyed. Sean was also able to get some valuable work experience during his time at Portobello.
“Throughout the course, we had to organise work placement.
“I managed to get placement with a rugby club and a football club. I was doing pitchside work with them. I also worked at a private clinic. I was able to apply everything we were learning in practical classes to both of those settings,” he said.
Sean had the relative misfortune of having to adapt to online learning in the closing months of his degree. A daunting challenge, particularly in such a practical course, but a challenge he was able to overcome.
“As I said, I finished up in the middle of a pandemic. That all kicked off when we had two or three months left in the course. That brought the challenge of online learning.
“The lecturers and tutors in Portobello really adapted well to that and made the transition as smooth as possible.
“When I finished up the course, it was difficult to find any jobs, for obvious reasons. Once things started to open again and restrictions were lifted, I started working in a small clinic and I also started working with a rugby club. I was in two different settings, and I was working with two different populations. The content and the modules from the course provided me with the tools and confidence I needed to begin working with the general public,” Sean said.
Then, in January 2021, Sean was able to use his qualification from Portobello to move on to the next step towards his dream of physiotherapy.
“Moving on to study physiotherapy always was a goal of mine. I found myself in the middle of lockdown with quite a lot of free time. I started making applications for master’s programmes in physiotherapy in the UK.
“Susan, one of the lecturers in Portobello, really helped through the entire interview and application process. That support really was invaluable.
“I was then offered a place in pre-registration physiotherapy in RGU in Aberdeen, which I accepted. I started that in January of 2021. That course began still in the middle of a lockdown, but thankfully the online learning aspect wasn’t much of a shock to me because of being used to it with Portobello.
“Initially, in the course, the practical content was a lot of stuff that we had already covered in Portobello, so that benefitted me massively. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with being bombarded with new information which helped me in adapting to my new environment in Scotland,” he said.
Once Sean graduates, he will finally be able to start working in his dream role, after a long and arduous journey. A journey he’s glad ran through Portobello.
“Studying in Portobello, it really did give me the confidence and the ability to work as a sports therapist. It also provided me with a really solid base to go and study physiotherapy at a master’s level.”
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