Osteopath

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Julie, Osteopath, Box Hill Melbourne

Where/what did you study?

Osteopathy at RMIT. Prior to that, I studied at The University of Melbourne and gained a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Organic Chemistry and Zoology.

How long have you been practicing osteopathy for?

11 years.

When and why did you decide to practice osteopathy?

From primary school through early secondary school I was a mad keen horse rider. At about age 12 or 13 I had a particularly nasty fall whilst jumping a horse. I flew over the neck of the horse, did a somersault and landed with my head tucked in and knocked myself out. When I came to, I was pretty sore and couldn't move my neck (understandably). My mother took me to an osteopath, who was a lovely gentle older man and he settled the symptoms down over a few weeks.

Later when I began studying more in year 11 and 12, my neck began to play up again and I did the usual round of chiropractors, physiotherapists and the GP. Finally my Mum took me to see a new osteopath, as the original osteopath had long since passed away. He fixed me up in no time, gave me exercises to help manage my posture and explained my condition very thoroughly. He asked me what I was going to do the next year after I finished year 12. I told him that I wanted to be a veterinarian. He replied 'I think you'd make a good osteopath', and this was what started my interest.

Where do you practice?

I own a practice in Box Hill North in Victoria . It's been running for 5 and a half years now. I have four other osteopaths working there and two remedial massage therapists. (Plus the reception staff) It's funny how things just evolve. I had never imagined myself running a clinic or being 'the boss'. One day I woke up and said 'Boy, how did that happen'? I remember the first day someone introduced me as their boss, I freaked out a little. I hadn't ever envisaged having that much responsibility.

What do you like best about being an osteopath?

Although it sounds cheesy, it's the contact with people. At times I still say 'I can't believe that I get paid to do this!' I laugh a lot through the day and have met some truly inspirational people over the years.

Working with my hands gives me great satisfaction, and I don't need to wait for someone to give me a yearly appraisal - the feedback is immediate. I have either helped or not. I enjoy that simplicity. It is very gratifying to be able to take away someone's pain or improve their standard of daily functioning.

I enjoy the intellectual side of the job, also. You are always thinking about diagnoses and lesion patterns and simply nutting things out. I enjoy educating patients and giving them a better understanding of their bodies and their condition.

What do you like least about being an osteopath?

On a day to day basis, the only thing that really annoys me about being an osteopath is when people don't ring to cancel their appointment. You can have a cancellation list, with people in pain wanting an appointment and when someone just doesn't show, it gets a little frustrating. But really, if that is the worst ting that can happen in your week, it's not all that bad!

If you want a really honest answer, I'm not so keen on people breaking wind whilst I am performing a lumbar roll. That's not the nicest part of your day! It's also a bit of a bummer when one of my receptionists is sick. Then I have to do real work for a change!

Have you been involved in any other areas to do with osteopathy?

I have had quite a good time with some extra-curricular roles outside of clinical practice, still under the osteopathy banner.

As a student, I was vice president of the osteopathic student association at RMIT. In the past I have been a lecturer at RMIT for seven years. Currently I do some consulting work for the Victorian WorkCover Authority.

Teaching was a marvelous journey. Nothing beats the moment when a student's face lights up with a look that says 'Now I get it!' To be there help them along in their understanding of the workings, theories, or practicalities of our profession was very a very fulfilling experience. (Although I'm sure that some of my students wouldn't have such glowing things to say about me!?)

What plans do you have for your future career?

The ultimate dream is to practice three mornings a week, and enjoy life the rest of the time. I can't ever really see a time when I do not practice, as it's too much fun to retire from completely. As long as the body holds up, I'll keep plugging away. But as there are mortgages to be paid, and holidays to go on, the ultimate dream is a long way off.

I would like to go back to teaching some time in the future, but will probably need to have a bit more study under my belt before then.

Anything else?

Just that it's a fun job, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).