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Job loss inspires first class physiotherapist

17 July 2015

Rachel Atkinson

Former electrician graduates top of the class  

A County Wicklow student is celebrating after graduating with a first class physiotherapy degree, six years on from losing his job as an electrician.

Stephen Finlay, from Greystones, graduated top of his class and received the Delsys Prize for Academic Excellence, which he collected at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) graduation ceremony this week.

Ireland’s economic downturn meant Stephen was made redundant shortly after he completed his electricians’ apprenticeship, which convinced him to explore other career opportunities.

 

“I looked into physiotherapy and decided it was what I wanted to do. The human body has always interested me and I felt I was good with people, which is important in this job.”

“I enjoyed being an electrician. I was making good money and planning to go and work in Australia, but losing my job made me reassess my goals,” he said.

“I looked into physiotherapy and decided it was what I wanted to do. The human body has always interested me and I felt I was good with people, which is important in this job.”

With one career already under his belt, Stephen wanted to qualify as a physio as quickly as possible. However, before he could join UCLan’s physiotherapy programme he had to spend three years at Sallynoggin College, Dublin, where he trained as a fitness instructor. The 28-year-old admits it’s a relief to finally graduate.

“It’s been a long time in the making so I’m delighted to be graduating and I’m humbled to have won the Delsys Prize.

“I wanted to start the course as soon as I lost my job, but looking back I think that would have been catastrophic because I learnt a lot at college. They taught me so much about the fundamentals of the anatomy of the body and that meant I hit the ground running when I started University.”

Stephen hopes to run his own private practice one day and is still exploring the opportunity of moving to Australia, but for now wants to gain as much experience as possible in an NHS setting.

 

“Now I’ve qualified I’m looking forward to having more of a free role so that my personality and style of physiotherapy can really come across."

“I’ve registered as a locum and plan to spend the next year gaining experience before I decide what route within physiotherapy I want to take. The good news is I can work anywhere in the world, so I’ve got options.”

It’s been a busy time for the Irishman, who has also had to prepare for the Kendal Calling music festival, where his band The Woodsmen will be performing. A folk/indie group, Stephen plays lead guitar and enjoys having a creative outlet.

He added: “We got together in September 2014 and have gained momentum since then. Kendal Calling is the biggest gig we’ve done and we’re planning on going to London to record an EP soon, but it’s just a bit of fun for me. I find it’s a great stress reliever and gives me a chance to be creative, which I think is important in life.”