About the course
4-year Bachelor/Master combined. 1st year is common subject year that lays the foundation for health science disciplines. 1st year is technically NOT related to physiotherapy and students can choose to transfer to other health disciplines (or from other health disciplines if your marks are high enough, subject to availability)
High school graduates from overseas usually do 1 year of foundation studies then apply for the 4-year program. Alternatively, some choose to do 2 years of diploma and transfer to 2nd year of the program. Discuss with your agent what is best for you.
You learn about the fundamental knowledge for physiotherapy in 2nd year, eg. human anatomy (you will know the name of every muscle in the body by the end of 2nd year, plus an overview of neuroscience), research skills for health science, biomechanics (how the body moves), basic physiotherapy skills, pharmacology and pathophysiology. There is also a community experience subject at the end of 2nd year where you will develop your interpersonal and communication skills through a community experience.
Having more exposure to the community is especially beneficial for international students. Most international students have no problem academically but are often shy to take initiative in sharing or presenting in front of class.
There are usually 10 or less international students in the physiotherapy cohort each year and they are often allocated to different groups. It may be useful to get connected and help each other out.
3rd year Semester 1 is the last semester at university before going onto clinical placements. It has quite a full workload and prepares you for placements. You will need good time management and self discipline to do well in this semester.
For the remaining 1.5 year of the program, students will be doing their clinical placements at various sites in Melbourne and theory blocks as well (usually 2 theory subjects in a 5-week block). This is the time when you direct your own learning and apply your knowledge through doing. You are expected to be an independent learner by this stage.
Clinical placements will be allocated to you based on where you live and availability of placements. There are 6 blocks of placements in total (4 core plus 2 elective). You are allowed to submit a request for a specific field for one of the elective placements (eg. private practice, overseas placement,etc).
Upon completion of the course, La Trobe will help you register with the national physiotherapy board. You can apply for jobs and start working once you receive your registration.
* Note: there may be additional English language requirements for international students in order to register with the physiotherapy board. Check https://www.ahpra.gov.au/registration/registration-standards/english-language-skills.aspx
University learning focuses on critical appraisal of knowledge and self driven learning. Most subjects would have a lecture (either delivered face-to-face or pre-recorded) and tutorials or practicals during the week. Students are expected to learn from the online materials and use the practical/tutorial to further consolidate their understanding.
The first 2 years of the program are more knowledge-based and involve some form of group work in most subjects. This should not be too difficult for international students. Starting in 3rd year, the teachers would take on a less directed role and expect students to be responsible for their own learning. It would be more hands-on learning and students would have the opportunity to practise and apply their skills in class. It is essential to come to class prepared by doing the readings and pre-class work. The face-to-face sessions are more to discuss and consolidate knowledge rather than one-way delivery from the teachers. La Trobe uses an evidence-based approach in teaching physiotherapy. From 3rd year onwards, learning occurs via case studies and students are expected to apply what they learned in case studies. Teachers are there to guide discussions but they are not there to give you the answer.
Campus and surroundings
The Bundoora campus is the largest among all La Trobe campuses. The physiotherapy program is delivered in either Bundoora or Bendigo campus. Bundoora is the metropolitan campus (situated about 14km from the Melbourne CBD), while Bendigo is a regional town 150km from Melbourne (approximately 2-hour drive from Melbourne).
The Bundoora campus is well-connected with public transport. It can be reached by tram, train and bus. Many students choose to live close to campus (either on- or off- campus). There are grocery stores within 10-15 minute walking distance from campus. You can easily get your shopping done in the neighbourhood.
Bundoora is a rather quiet and peaceful suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne. While it provides an ideal study environment with few distractions, it can sometimes be boring (especially if you are used to city life in HK). People usually go to the CBD or surrounding suburbs for entertainment, food and shopping. It takes about an hour on public transport to get to the CBD from Bundoora.
The Aussie lifestyle is generally laid-back and people are mostly tolerant of differences. Australia does not have a rich history or culture and embraces diversity. There are festivals celebrating different cultures throughout the year and they are mostly free to attend. There is no particular Aussie dish but there are various cuisines in Melbourne. Eating out is generally costly so it is recommended that you prepare your own meals (even McDonald’s is expensive here).
Aussies love their barbeque and would throw one for friends and family on weekends. It often consists of sausages and bread. Overall, the Aussie lifestyle is nowhere as exciting as that in HK. It certainly takes time to adjust to the lifestyle here.
Tips for future students
• Year 1 of the course is the ‘free’ year (relatively light workload), so I would recommend using this time to not just explore but perhaps get a job or do volunteer work. Working or volunteering is a great way to be part of the community and understand how things work locally. It also helps build confidence in English conversation (essential skill as a health professional) and learn how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds• It would be useful to get a driver licence in Year 1 or 2 as you might need your own transportation for clinical placements in Year 3 and 4• Be proactive in learning and form study groups. Learning is increasingly self-directed as the course progresses (especially Year 3 and 4). Do not expect teachers to spoon-feed knowledge. Do your own preparation and reading before class and be prepared to discuss and share in class.• Know how/where to get help. Familiarise yourself with the resources available for students (eg. study help, international student office, housing, etc). Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need• Do not expect ‘model answers’ and rote learning. Try to understand the material and apply in real life situations. In clinical practice, you will need to formulate your own reasoning and make judgment on your own• Ask questions in class. Volunteer to be a patient/therapist (in practical sessions) so you learn more. It is not enough to just watch and take notes. It can be intimidating to speak or demonstrate in front of the class but the earlier you overcome this the better• Make an appointment with your teacher if you have any concerns (eg. academic difficulties, personal issues,etc). Staff are happy to help if you seek help early. • If you did not do well in an assignment, ask your teacher for feedback and how you can improve• THIS APPLIES to 3rd YEAR IN PARTICULAR. Use your time outside of class to practise your skills with your peers as much as possible (eg. patient interview, assessing and treating patients, physiotherapy techniques). There are both theory and practical components for each subject and the best way to prepare for practical exam is through PRACTICE!!!• Keep up with your studies. DO NOT leave things til the last minute, ESPECIALLY FOR 3rd YEAR• During breaks or when you are free, arrange visits at physiotherapy clinics. Most are happy for you to observe their practice. This gives you an idea how physiotherapy is applied in real life.