In this new series we'll be interviewing different UCO students, both past and present. This time we meet recent graduate, Norma-Jean Wyngard. Norma-Jean has just completed her final year in the Full Time M.Ost Course and will be graduating in November.
Hi Norma-Jean. Tell us a little about you and what inspired you to become an osteopath.
“I was 15 the first time I saw an osteopath. I'd been involved in an accident and had been having physiotherapy for lower back pain for over six months with short periods of relief. A family member referred me to the osteopathic clinic she worked in as a massage therapist. Three treatments later and I felt like a new person.
As soon as I completed my A-levels I started work as her maternity cover on reception. I developed a keen interest on what was happening in the treatment rooms and the osteopath encouraged me to study massage; he paid for my training too. I really wanted to study osteopathy but I lived in Africa at the time and the cost of studying overseas was astronomical. I came to the UK as an asylum seeker, got married, had children and became a stay-at-home mum while we awaited the decision on our status by the Home Office. After many years we were granted refugee status and my husband -who always knew what my passion was - encouraged me to enrol as a mature student.
I started the Access Course with three children, the youngest being just one year old and my middle child having just had open heart surgery at age four. I hit the ground running and as hard as it was I began to feel as if I had found my purpose."
Can you summarise your time at the UCO?
"A very successful year on the Access course and a very steep learning curve in the first year of full time osteopathic studies during which I failed one module. I retook a year and the rest is history. Each year became more challenging than the one before but the rewards of job satisfaction and increased knowledge are well worth it."
Was the training how you expected it to be?
"I didn't really know what to expect. The osteopath I had worked for in Africa was also a naturopath. He was always busy, hence the many massage therapists who worked for him. We did all the soft tissue work and he did the consultations and we never got to witness the "clicks". I just knew people got better. The amount of subjects we covered at the UCO is so vast I'm amazed at what I have learned. My family call me ‘Doctor’ and now they come to me about all sorts of health concerns."
What's the plan now you've left? Can you give me a brief description of a normal day for you?
"At the moment I am working two days a week as a sports massage therapist. I deferred my dissertation, once that has been completed and my GOsC registration comes through I have the good fortune of being involved in a council regeneration scheme in my local borough. I will be working as an osteopath two days a week in a wellness clinic with professionals in the fields of naturopathic iridology, kinesiology, Ayurvedic nutrition, massage, reflexology, sauna and yoga. In the interim I'm enjoying having some free time with my children who sacrificed a lot while I studied."
Any advice to new students?
"Definitely! This course is life changing and life fulfilling IF you are prepared to stick with it and work. Your UCO peers and tutors are your most valuable resource and it doesn't take long before they become family, IF you allow yourself to develop those relationships. My only regret is I wish I had been able to begin this journey much earlier in life as the lessons learnt at the UCO are not just about osteopathy, they're about self-discovery too."
How do you feel now you've left and are preparing to start life as a qualified osteopath?
"I feel excited, tired and nervous...a good nervous. I can't wait to see what the future holds. I had some support from the UCO tutors; they were very truthful about life after the UCO. The most useful piece of advice I have been given so far has been about having peer support and after having worked so closely over the last few years with so many of my colleagues in study groups and practice sessions I truly value their input. I miss it already so I'm grateful for CPD and intend to fully nurture the relationships I've developed at the UCO."
Read what some of our other students have to say about studying at the UCO...