POGP welcomes you to this section designed for student physiotherapists who are interested in learning more about physiotherapy in pelvic health!
You may be visiting:
- As a student who is interested in pursuing a career in pelvic health
- As a pelvic health enthusiast and keen to learn more
- Before or following a student placement and would like some further guidance
Membership with POGP
At POGP we want to nurture student development and offer various ways to do this which include:
- Reduced membership to POGP at a rate of only £26 a year giving you access to the full POGP website including full journal, good practice statements, social media channels and many more educational resources
- One of our most popular educational resources for students and band 5s is the Educational Handbook which can be accessed with membership
- Use our POGP pelvic health community on our member-only facebook group
- Apply for our Margie Polden bursary to get POGP conference fees and accommodation paid for you
- Receive student discount for up to 2 years after graduation
For full details on student membership to POGP or to apply CLICK HERE
“When I first started as a physiotherapy student I wasn’t introduced to Pelvic Health as a career until my second year. A guest lecturer came to our University to give a talk and ever since that day I was sold. This led me to ask for a placement in a Pelvic Health department and I have since completed two placements in this area, both of which I loved.
As Pelvic Health is not a main module taught at university I was nervous about the placement and wondered whether I would be knowledgeable enough in this area to do well. These fears were soon settled on my first day of placement when I met the wonderful team on my induction day. Pelvic Health is a specialised area and the educators understand it is not part of our modules and is a steep learning curve as a student. Their true passion shone through for this area and their main aim was for me to gain a really good understanding of the area first and foremost and to see whether it would be somewhere I wanted to work in the future. I had many opportunities whilst I was there and learnt more than I could have hoped to in this short placement.
One year on and I have decided this is the career path I want to follow and I look forward to the day I can work as a fully qualified physiotherapist in Pelvic Health.”
Abigail, 3rd Year Physiotherapy Student
POGP (Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy) is a special interest group of the CSP. We have grown significantly over the past few years as pelvic health continues to become a larger, better known area of physiotherapy.
Many students first come across pelvic health physiotherapy in their undergraduate lectures at university. Lectures on this may be brief and vary from university to university. Common lectures may be on:
- Bladder anatomy, normal function and conditions
- Common pregnancy conditions and body changes during the three trimesters
- The pelvic floor, its anatomy and function
- How to adapt your MSK assessment skills to treating a pelvic health patient
- An introduction to intimate examinations
There is more routine training on pelvic health with lectures, assessment and treatment techniques sitting alongside regular musculoskeletal training on the lower back, hip, sacroiliac joints and symphysis pubis.
“ I love seeing the students shocked faces when I first say the word vagina in a lecture, then the word penis and the eyes and giggles begin. But I often see how these feelings of discomfort or humour turn to inquisitiveness side glances, to understand ‘socially inappropriate’ areas. I feel like I am providing the sex / pelvic education students feel they always needed. Everyone starts to learn things about their body they never knew such as menstrual pain, or what labour may be like, or why a sexual health screen is important. Pelvic Health Education is essential for each of us, but what is even more special is that I am training people in how to help others with these concerns. For me this is one of the most rewarding areas to be able to help another human being. Stopping urinary incontinence, or faecal incontinence is life changing. What is even better is this can be done via conservative physiotherapy management”
Lucia, Pelvic Health Physiotherapy Lecturer and Advanced Clinical Practitioner in Pelvic health
Getting a Pelvic Health Student Placement
If you participate in a student placement in pelvic health you may find that your knowledge base in this area is not as prominent as other areas such as musculoskeletal. This can put many students off or make them nervous. It is important to know that everyone is in the same position and with good discussion with your clinical educator or line manager you will be able to put some self-directed learning into clear learning opportunities. In fact many of your musculoskeletal skills can be applied to pelvic health.
Your clinical educator will undoubtedly be passionate about their specialty in pelvic health and will be keen to engage with you and your learning outcomes both before and during your placement.
“ I have mainly been involved with students on elective placements in pelvic health but also offer single days to all physiotherapy students in the hospital. I have completed a clinical educators course and aim to get the best learning outcomes and experience for all students. All pelvic health physiotherapists I know are really passionate about their clinical area and will aim to provide a great placement. Pelvic health is not a core subject on degree courses although many have excellent education about it. It is still at times a bit misunderstood and many students may not be aware it even exists.. Having a placement or even spending one day with a pelvic health physiotherapist gives you a more holistic approach to clinical practice. For many it has sparked a life long career. I would encourage all students to seek at least one day with a pelvic health physiotherapist”.
Shirley, Clinical Educator and POGP Member
“ I have been a clinical educator in pelvic health since 2009, students often work with us on the postnatal wards, and in outpatients. Outpatients is a daunting area for a student, and in MSK students often only see peripheral joints. In pelvic health the student can assess the lumbar spine, and pelvis areas that can be intimidating to understand due to the impact on quality of life and long term pain. A student therefore, starts to learn how to manage chronic pain, use terminology that is non-threatening, and provide the essential early long term management and prevention education every patient needs to independently manage their body”.
Lucia, Clinical Educator and POGP Member
Tips from a student to a student
Here are some top tips from an undergraduate student on what she would recommend before completing a pelvic health placement.
- Email your educator before the start of your placement, introduce yourself and ask for some pre-reading to do around the main conditions you will be working with in Pelvic Health
- Familiarise yourself with the anatomy of the pelvis and get a good understanding of where everything is and practice saying and explaining this out loud
- Revise your hip and lumber assessments and have a think about how these could be adapted for someone who is pregnant
- Invest in a good notebook and make as many notes as you can from the clinical conversations you will have with your educator. This will be your Pelvic Health ‘instruction manual’ and will not leave your side!
“What is POGP?”
POGP stands for Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological physiotherapy. We are a professional network of the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) and our members are either clinical specialists in this area or have a clinical interest in it.
“I have a pelvic health student placement and I am not sure what to expect or how I can prepare?”
Each placement in pelvic health will differ. You may be doing inpatient, outpatient, community or a mixture of all of them. Pelvic health placements will also differ in the type of conditions you see but examples may include, pregnant women with pain, postnatal abdominal separation, inpatient pelvic floor advice after delivery, incontinence and prolapse. We recommend you speak with your clinical educator prior to starting your placement and ask what clinical areas you will be working in and conditions it would be useful to be aware of before you start.
You are not expected to carry out vaginal examination at undergraduate level but you may be observing some.
“I have a student placement in pelvic health coming up and I am nervous as we have not had many lectures on this subject, what should be my learning priorities?”
This is a common concern and please remember every student doing a clinical placement is in a similar position. Because pelvic health is a specialty of physiotherapy there are not as many lectures on the subject. Good discussion with your clinical educator and colleagues along with some self-directed learning will increase confidence and skills quickly.
Many students end up thoroughly enjoying their pelvic health placement and want to learn more!
“I have had some lectures on pelvic health and I am interested to learn more on this subject”
POGP student membership is a great place to start as we offer a reduced rate of only £26 per year for full access to the POGP website including our most recent and back history of journals, Good Practice Statements, blog section, closed Facebook page and resources section, amongst many more benefits.
POGP offers student physiotherapists an opportunity to apply for our Margie Polden Bursary. This bursary will be awarded annually to an applicant who is able to demonstrate an interest in the field of pelvic, obstetric, and gynaecological physiotherapy and is keen to develop that interest further. The bursary funds both the conference fee and accommodation costs, however it does not fund the travel costs for the recipient. You can apply online HERE!
“I’m interested in a career in Pelvic Health but as a student I don’t know where to start?”
If you have the opportunity to request a pelvic health placement as a student we would recommend putting it down as a choice. Once you have graduated you will probably look to apply to band 5 level posts. Some hospitals offer rotational positions, which may include pelvic health. Keep a look out for these, as this is a fantastic way to learn more as a qualified physiotherapist. If you don’t have a pelvic health rotation in pelvic health there is still plenty of opportunity to learn. You could request to see pregnant or postnatal patients in outpatients. If you are ward based you could request to treat or observe the gynaecological ward or postnatal ward patients.
There are also courses you can attend to learn more on pelvic health. POGP courses are all peer-reviewed and regularly updated so are an excellent choice. You can view our courses HERE.
“Do you need any additional qualifications to work in Pelvic Health after you have graduated with an undergrad in Physiotherapy?”
Most physiotherapists in pelvic health learnt skills as a band 5 and 6 physiotherapist, learning from more senior colleagues and working with the rest of the pelvic health team. Many who wish to learn more on pelvic health choose to complete courses to further their development and skills. Although additional qualifications are therefore not necessarily required you will be expected to pass key competencies within your pelvic health team in order to carry our some assessment and treatment techniques such as vaginal examinations.
“What are the career opportunities when working in Pelvic Health?”
Pelvic health is a very rewarding area of physiotherapy and in many hospitals and private clinics it is an expanding area with more opportunities arising regularly. This means a physiotherapist has the opportunity to work from a band 5 level physiotherapist all the way up to clinical specialist. In private practice there is high demand for this area of clinical speciality with lots of job opportunities. Learning opportunities are also broad with MSc level attainable, many courses, research and tutoring opportunities for the future.
“Will I be expected to carry out physical examinations as a student in this area?”
Most students will be expected to start assessing and treating musculoskeletal pelvic health conditions during their undergraduate studies. These might include pregnant and postnatal women with low back and/or pelvic pain. Undergraduate physiotherapists do not carry out vaginal or anorectal examinations, but you may be observing them.