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How can the Health Workforce Scholarship Program help you upskill?

Nitin Madan is a physiotherapist working in a private sports medicine clinic in Traralgon. In the Latrobe Valley area, there are no sports physicians so Nitin is part of the primary care network for those with sports or musculoskeletal injuries.

Being in an environment where he is constantly challenged, he wanted to pursue a Masters in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy which would advances his scope of practice – a service vitally needed for the community.

That is why he applied for the Health Workforce Scholarship Program through RWAV, which provided him the financial support to undertake his master’s degree. We caught up with Nitin to chat about how his studies are progressing and what it would mean for Traralgon to have an APA titled Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist.

What’s your rural health journey been like so far?

I graduated as a Physiotherapist in 2015 from Monash University and was looking for a way to break into the sports physiotherapy field. This is an extremely competitive field in Melbourne and I knew I needed to go about it through an alternative route. 

An opportunity came up in Traralgon, Victoria, which is about two hours away from Melbourne. This opportunity was at a clinic that had a focus on sports medicine and had invested in some brilliant technology. The clinic was well known by all the local sporting clubs. 

I grabbed the opportunity and relocated right after graduation. The decision to move was a good one. Almost three years on now and I feel that I have fast tracked my development by being exposed to complex and challenging cases early as well a strong patient load. I have worked with local sporting clubs and have had the opportunity to run healthy living seminars at the local power stations. 

You are a recipient of the Health Workforce Scholarship Program, which you are using to undertake a Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy. How has this helped you to upskill?

In terms of development, my goal was that in three years I wanted to achieve what most physiotherapists traditionally achieve in eight to 10 years post-graduation. As a result, I invested thousands of dollars into my personal and professional development. As most students will agree, more HECS debt is the last thing you need after studying for so long and this would have been a barrier for me in undertaking the masters. However, with the Health Workforce Scholarship Program, I was able to rid myself of the financial dilemma and proceed with the post graduate education. This has helped me to take on more complex and challenging cases as well increased many referrals from local GPs.     

What would it mean for your community to have a masters level sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist?

The community already has many excellent physiotherapists that are not masters level qualified. I have found that academic progress does not always translate to clinical success. However, the masters qualification gives you access to a network of likeminded professionals and an avenue to focus your continuing education in a structured, streamlined manner. The benefit for the community is that they know they will be seeing someone who is committed to professional growth and improvement. This normally translates to a more passionate practitioner. Passion leads to greater influence which in my opinion is the major contributor to your success as a practitioner. 

How did you find the process of applying for this grant? Would you recommend it to other rural health professionals?

The process was quick and easy and hassle free. I just had to provide proof of my enrolment and a statement of marks to prove I was performing adequately. 

I would HIGHLY recommend it to other professionals. However, I would caution against using the grant just because it is available. Make sure you genuinely want to take on extra study and can balance it with the rest of your life before making the choice to proceed with it. 

What do you enjoy the most about working and living rural? What are some of the things you get up to in Traralgon or surrounding areas?

Traralgon is such a nice town! My experience was amazing. The patients tend to be very loyal and appreciative and really value your advice and care. Traralgon has every sporting club and exercise facility you could want. I trained with a local cricket club for a while and used the gym regularly. There are some beautiful restaurants and cafes that could rival those in Melbourne CBD. Also, as it is less than two hours away from Melbourne, I did end up going back to Melbourne almost every weekend to see friends and family. 

If you are interested in pursuing further studies to upskill like Nitin, consider applying for the Health Workforce Scholarship Program. RWAV offers grants and scholarships to allied health professionals working in rural and regional Victoria. Find out more here. 

If you are interested in working in rural Victoria, see current vacancies on the RWAV website or contact our Recruitment team to learn more: screeningAHN@rwav.com.au.

The Health Workforce Scholarship Program is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health administered by RWAV in Victoria.

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