OF Charlotte Butler - Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy

OF Charlotte Butler (mn12-17) is in her first year studying for a Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Writtle University College in Essex. She gives us an insight into the profession and the impact Covid-19 has had on student life. 
Before leaving Felsted I had been offered a place to study music at Southampton Solent University. My plan was to take a year out before starting my course and then begin my studies. However, after completing a semester I realised that it wasn’t the right course for me. Following a lot of consideration and with the support of my family, I decided to leave.
I spent the next two years travelling and working in a lot of different industries to fund my experiences. When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, I left my work to shield the vulnerable members of my family, and with travelling out of the question, I decided that it was the right time to return to my studies.
After I left my course, my German Shepherd was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a spinal condition which cannot be cured and leads to loss of movement and feeling in the hind limbs. He had to have extensive around the clock care which led me to complete a diploma in canine care and first aid and started my research into the beneficial impacts of hydrotherapy and massage. When I saw how it could improve his quality of life, I knew that I wanted to work with animals. I had worked for a canine kennel and daycare company for a little while before starting my own dog walking and animal home care business alongside other jobs. My family have always had a lot of animals, it was difficult to imagine not being around them. 

My degree is an integrated masters and focuses on equine and canine anatomy. It covers everything from internal structures to the ethical principles behind the use of animals. The first two years of the course focuses on the structure of animals, understanding their biology, physiology and how physiotherapy can positively impact their mental and physical wellbeing. The third year focuses on how you apply theoretical knowledge in practical ways through things like massage and hydrotherapy, along with modules such as sports medicine. In my final year, I will complete the veterinary aspects of the degree which will allow me to apply more advanced physiotherapeutic techniques and work in clinical practices.
My time at Felsted has taught me to have confidence in my abilities and believe you actually can do it, without this I don’t think I would be where I am today. Self-reliance is a skill which has been very useful, both when I was travelling and in more recent times with online lectures. Like many other students, I’ve not been able to go into university for my practical sessions due to Covid-19 which has been challenging as physiotherapy is a very practical career. Not being able to practice massage techniques and muscle palpation with the help of the lecturers has probably been the most difficult and finding work in the industry right now is also challenging as many companies cannot take extra people on at the moment. 
Once I am a qualified Veterinary Physiotherapist, I will be able to work in clinical practices under veterinary referral or start my own practice which will support veterinary clinics in the surrounding areas. One of the main areas of focus for physiotherapists is preventative care and post-injury rehabilitation, so I hope to be able to support veterinary practices by working with patients to reduce the risk of an injury or disorder reoccurring. 
My advice to Felsted pupils who are keen to work with animals is that experience goes a long way. I would have never imagined that I would be studying a masters in Science when I obtained a D at GCSE Science and did not take any Science subjects at A Level. When it came down to applying for my degree my experience with animals got me in the door. Do everything you possibly can, muck out stables and walk your neighbours' dogs if you have to, just work hard and it will pay off.
Looking ahead to the future, travelling has always been an important part of my life so I am really looking forward to being able to do that again. Regarding my studies, I am very much looking forward to being able to return to my practical sessions, get hands on with the animals and do what I love.

Science at Felsted