Albert Obeng graduated from the UCO in 2020 with a Master of Osteopathy Degree. He is also the first black recipient of the UCO's Gold Medal for Academic Excellence. We asked him to share some of the rewards and challenges of his first year as a qualified osteopath with our 2021 graduates and this is what he said:
"To complete this course is quite an achievement but to do it given the challenges the pandemic brought is truly incredible. My cohort had an untimely finish to the course due to the lockdown restrictions which meant we only had a taste of online lectures. Those three months were quite difficult, so to have adapted and overcome the way you guys did is truly remarkable. So, congratulations to all of you from the class of 2021.
Although, I can't relate to how you might feel on this graduation day (for obvious reasons), I can totally relate to venturing into the working world as a newly qualified osteopath and the anxiety that comes with it. To help you get over these anxieties and potentially have a head start, I would like to share a few things I have learnt over the past year that might help some of you.
I am sure some of you are already practising and others may have not made that leap yet. Whichever camp you might be in, that is the right thing to do. Personally, it took three months from when I completed the course before I gathered courage to start working. Yes, I was rusty when I first started but it is like riding a bicycle, you soon find yourself in the swing of things. Additionally, from my experience, most principals are understanding of the interruption the pandemic brought to the course and are very sympathetic to the situation. So, if you have any concerns of feeling “not ready”, trust me you are more than ready. The tuition we received at UCO is top notch and from what I remember, your curriculum was an upgrade of what we had so you will be more than fine.
On that note, I need you to remember that some days you will feel very confident as a practitioner and other days you will feel like an imposter. I want you to remember that you are not alone and there are several others going through these emotions, including myself. Also, learn not to correlate how slow your patients recover to your level of competency. Remember, there are other factors that go into recovery, which are outside of your control. I am not an advocate of not taking responsibility for your patients’ outcome measures. But as long as you have given the best care you can to that patient, that is all you can do really. Also, bear in mind that you are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Your style of osteopathy might not be what they are after or used to. As obvious as this might sound to some of you, it is very liberating if you understand it on an emotional and intellectual level.
I am sure some of you made a career change to study osteopathy, others had dependents, and may have had to make some sacrifices financially. I have found this profession can be rewarding both in terms of job satisfaction and filling your pockets. But it can also be draining both emotionally and physically. Remember, the name of the game is longevity (otherwise what were all those sacrifices for?) We spend our careers getting others better but sometimes to the detriment of our own health. Work hard but make sure you take care of yourselves too. Otherwise, you will burn yourselves out and be no good to your patients or loved ones. The lure of money can be tempting especially if you have had a career before and are trying to make up for lost time (financially). By taking care of yourselves, I also mean learning to manage your energy levels. Find hobbies and spend time with people that will energise you. As hard as it is, your first and last patient of the day should receive similar energy from you; it is only fair after all.
I know it is only a year in but becoming an osteopath has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I really enjoyed the student experience as I am sure you all did. But it gets even better now that you are qualified. I wish you all the very best in your careers. Enjoy the celebrations and every success that comes your way in the future, you deserve it."