Laura Dunleavy – BSc (Hons) in Health Science and Physical Activity

Laura Dunleavy recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Health Science and Physical Activity. Laura talks about her experience as a student and gives details on the positive experience she had studying at ATU Sligo. Laura talks about the various modules she studied and the excellent facilities provided in ATU Sligo. Laura has since progressed to a Masters in Physiotherapy at University College Cork.

Read more about Laura’s experience at ATU Sligo in her student story below.

Name: Laura Dunleavy

School: Colaiste Muire, Ballymote, Sligo

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choosing your course:

My name is Laura and I have always had an interest in human anatomy. I always knew that I wanted to be a physiotherapist. The Health Science and Physiology course stood out to me as it provided an in-depth introduction to various topics studied in physiotherapy. I heard excellent reviews about this course and knew it contained a variety of modules which appealed to me. Therefore, this helped with my decision when choosing courses for my CAO. The course is very diverse and provides a pathway into a range of different careers or future studies. I was lucky enough that this course was offered in ATU Sligo as it meant I didn’t have to travel elsewhere.

What specifically about the course did you particularly enjoy?

I enjoyed a lot of different aspects of this course. The variety of modules was good as everyone found something that they enjoyed. I found the delivery of the course was very effective as it consisted of lectures, practicals, and workshops. I loved how the course also included awards that were built into it such as the fitness instructor award. It provided other opportunities that will stand to me for my future studies and career.

What is the best thing about the course that you think new applicants should know?

I would say that one of the best things about this course is the options it gives you after obtaining the degree. It includes so many opportunities and offers many different career pathways. Also, the class size is small, and all the lecturers are very friendly and approachable which makes it easier to get settled into the course. If you are interested in health in any way and are unsure of what route you would like to take, then Health Science and Physiology is a really good option for you as it provides a wide range of modules covering all areas of health whether it be physical activity, nutrition, health promotion, physiology or research.

Any favourite modules during your time studying?

I would have to say that I really enjoyed many of the modules throughout the duration of this course. In particular, I really enjoyed Human Anatomy and Physiology, Physical Activity Across the Lifespan and Biomechanics of Human Movement. But in saying that, I enjoyed most modules within this course. They are so diverse, and everyone would find something they love.

What key skills did you learn while studying at ATU Sligo that have influenced your career?

I have learned and developed many skills while studying here. Each module brought along a new set of skills which have helped clarify the direction and career pathway I wanted to take. I have learned many skills such as health communication skills, group work and facilitation skills, research skills, health promotion skills, exercise testing skills and instruction skills. All of which have been learned and developed through a variety of different modules.

Can you share some detail of your career path to date?

I graduated from the Health Science and Physiology programme and continued on for one more year in the Health Science and Physical Activity programme. These four years have provided me with a level 8 degree and have led to my application for a Masters (pre-registration) in Physiotherapy. Moreover, there is that option of applying for physiotherapy in the UK during the course however, my plan was to stay for the four years in ATU and to then progress onto a physiotherapy course thereafter.

Can you tell us more about how you found the process of applying for further studies?

The MSc in Physiotherapy (Pre-registration) course started on the 12th of September 2022 in UCC. First of all, I had to apply online which included filling out an application form, writing a motivation statement and having an academic reference. Once I passed that stage, I was then interviewed.

To strengthen my application, I completed some shadowing with physiotherapists and also completed volunteering. Making the most of the Health Science and Physiology course really helped, as there are many opportunities built into this course. I received many certificates such as the fitness instructor award and personal training award which are obtained if you achieve certain grades in a few different modules. Other certificates were obtained throughout the course which I feel all would definitely help strengthen the application. Moreover, I got the opportunity to publish my thesis in the SURE Journal, as well as speaking at the SURE conference 2021.

Once the interview was completed I was told about my conditional offer a few weeks later. I would recommend that students look into colleges and courses early on as, deadlines for different college applications vary.

What advice would you share with our current students considering a career in your field?

I would say that if you are considering physiotherapy as a career then you are definitely in the right course. I would advise students to make the most out of the course as the more you do the more that will stand to you. Do your best and if you had a plan in mind in terms of your route to physiotherapy, I would say stick with it. It is always a good idea to look into course requirements and applications whether this be if you want to go into an undergraduate physiotherapy course or if you decide to go down the Masters route. Carrying out shadowing with a physiotherapist, or with a professional in whatever career interests you, is always a great way to understand the profession that bit more and to get the opportunity to see how much you like it.

What did you like best about studying at ATU Sligo?

Overall, I would say that I loved the atmosphere within the college. Everyone is friendly and there is always help and support no matter the situation. The course sizes are small which I feel definitely helps with easing into the course and getting to meet people. The college is situated in an ideal location as it is very close to the town, with access to public transport. The facilities are brilliant and there are different clubs and societies within the college to suit everyone, as well as the Knocknarea Arena which is very close by.

What advice would you give a first year student starting in ATU Sligo?

I would say to get stuck in and make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions whether it be to lecturers, other staff members or even to classmates as everyone is in the same boat. There are also many students support services available within the college such as the Students’ Union or Student Health Services. Enjoy the student experience in ATU Sligo as the few years fly by.


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