Dearbhla Neenan – Higher Certificate in Health and Exercise Science

Name: Dearbhla Neenan

From: Galway

School: Dunmore Community School

Further Study: BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy at Cardiff University

I studied at ATU Sligo for two years after my Leaving Cert. I decided to study at ATU Sligo as I had heard good things from past students. I wanted to study physiotherapy after my Leaving Cert but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be for me. I chose to study a broader course in health science first to see if there were alternative options out there for me that I may prefer. Studying in Sligo helped me to realise that physiotherapy is exactly the career I wanted to follow.

I loved studying anatomy and physiology. There were lots of areas of study particularly relevant to physiotherapy which made me realise that it was the career I wanted to pursue. The lecturers were all very friendly and approachable which made learning easier.

The class sizes are small meaning you never really feel like a small fish in a big pond! This was really nice coming from a smaller secondary school. As some of the lecturers already have a background as allied health professionals such as physiotherapy, they are able to give you first hand information about different career paths and have helped other students such as myself to find the best route for them. In a larger college, you may not get such an opportunity as you can get lost in the crowd a bit easier.

I really enjoyed the modules during my studies in ATU Sligo, but Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology was certainly my favourite. It was one of the modules most closely related to my current field of study.

After graduating from Sligo, I moved to the UK where I am currently studying a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy at Cardiff University. Once graduated, I hope to find a job as a physiotherapist. I don’t know what particular area of physiotherapy I would like to specialise in as of yet but I am enjoying my time so far!

Similar to the course in Sligo, I study modules relating to anatomy and physiology, exercise science etc. so there is some general overlap in content and how our classes are laid out.

One of the big skills I have taken with me to Cardiff, is understanding how to read journal articles and learning how to reference. It can take a little while to wrap your head around as it’s not something you generally learn in secondary school, but having already gained that experience in Sligo, my assignments this year have been a lot easier. It seems simple but it saved me a lot of stress!

As anatomy is a cornerstone of the physiotherapy course in Cardiff, I had a head start in some of my first year physiotherapy modules because of my studies in Sligo. As a result, I found that I was able to enjoy them more having already gained a fundamental anatomical understanding. This really helped me during my exams. Also, having practical classes and exams in Sligo made the practical exams this year seem a lot less daunting.

For anybody interested in following a similar path – learn your anatomy now! It will serve you well in the future! Enjoy your time in Sligo and take in as much information as you can. Even if you start the course with a particular career in mind, don’t close your mind to the other opportunities or paths a qualification from ATU Sligo can give you. Ask plenty of questions. Get any experience you can in the field you are interested in as this will definitely help you if you decide to study a healthcare course after your time in Sligo.

College is a big change from secondary school but if you make the most of any opportunities you can find it will be so worth it. You have the chance to make so many new memories and learn so much about yourself – it’s such an exciting time!

When it comes to Sligo itself, I liked that the accommodation was so close to the campus. I missed that this year! It’s a relatively inexpensive place to live and go out in and if you have a car there are so many beautiful places to visit so close to the campus!

Finally, go to Mammy Johnson’s at Strandhill beach at least once! Thank me later.

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