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Day in a life of a postgraduate student

Jerry Draper-Rodi, BSO Practical Osteopathic Skills Tutor and Postgraduate Student

As an experienced osteopath, why have you chosen to return to higher education?
I decided to look for further training to challenge my beliefs. I wanted something which would look at osteopathy with a critical eye as well as looking at new concepts from other professions. The professional doctorate met these criteria.

How did you hear about the course?
I started to look actively at PhD or Doctorate courses around September 2010. Being a lecturer at the BSO, I had been told that this course would run for the first time in January 2011.

What type of practice do you work in?
I used to work in a multidisciplinary practice in Paris and now work in an osteopathic group practice in Paris. I also work in a practice in Didcot, Oxfordshire, near where I live. I've just set up this practice which I would like to turn into a multidisciplinary practice in a few years' time.

How do you balance your practice with the demands of postgraduate study?
Working between France and England, I spend a lot of time on the train reading articles, books or writing dissertations for the Professional Doctorate. I have so far managed not to take too much time away from my practice for the doctorate. I do need to work through some weekends; mostly when dissertation deadlines are approaching, I confess!

What aspects of the course do you find challenging/rewarding?
The Professional Doctorate is divided into five units. In depth prior knowledge is required, so I need to prepare thoroughly, mainly by reading around the subject. These units bring new concepts which don't always fit my perceptions or beliefs. This is sometimes difficult to accept but it gives me a feeling of having improved my knowledge; through my own work but also to a greater extent through exchanges with peers, lecturers and the head of the Professional Doctorate course. The rewards are personal and professional. I feel proud when I give in a dissertation on which I've worked for several dozen hours and when I'm happy with the end result (I don't mean the mark). It is a challenge to get to a point which you feel is your "best". The reward also comes when you see the direct effects on your practice.

How do you see your further study informing your practice in the future?
The first two units, through the lectures and the associated work, have given me a clearer view of certain practical topics and have had direct and considerable effect on my practice. I hope the next units will challenge me as much as the first ones have.

How do you see your practice evolving as a result?
I have worked on difficulties I was encountering and was already aware of but I have also had new insights which I've been able to talk about in detail with my peers. As the group is small, it permits a thorough exchange between us; both during units and between sessions through an electronic forum and emails.

How do you plan to update and develop your skills as a practitioner on an ongoing basis?
For the Professional Doctorate, statistics training was required. My undergraduate studies included statistics, but I hadn't used these skills for many years and therefore decided to take the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods, which I completed in September 2011. This course gave me clearer ideas on study design methods and statistical analysis.

What advice would you give to other osteopaths considering returning to postgraduate study?
I would advise them to talk to people who have undertaken the postgraduate studies they envisage. Prior reading is always useful. It allows you to be sure that it is what you are looking for and it will give you a head start if and when you decide to begin the course.