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Physiotherapy graduates recognised

Emma Breheny and Casey Garnett
30 June 2016

On 6 April, the SA Branch hosted the 2016 New Graduates Award Evening. The New Graduates Award Evening, sponsored by HESTA Superannuation, is an annual opportunity for graduates to share their early experiences of their physiotherapy career, before being welcomed to the profession by more senior physiotherapists.

New graduates from the University of South Australia and Flinders University were in attendance, along with APA Honoured Members, Branch Councillors, university staff, and SA Branch President Martin van der Linden, who was the MC for the evening.

Graduates were congratulated on the diligence they had shown in their academic and clinical practices to date, with 15 prizes awarded to students who had excelled in their studies.

On the night, Stacey McKenzie, APAM, had the double honour of being the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student to graduate from Flinders University’s Master of Physiotherapy and excellent clinical placements. She won the APA Graduate Entry Master's Prize for Clinical Excellence for receiving top marks among graduates for her clinical placements during her studies.

She puts the award down to hard work and a healthy competitive spirit. ‘I had a really great tutor who also won the clinical placement award the year before me and I think it became a bit of a goal for me to win it as well,’ she says.

Stacey’s placements ranged from a private practice in Darwin to an acute stroke ward, with a nursing home, an outpatient clinic at Flinders Medical Centre and a rehabilitation hospital along the way. She also spent three or four nights a week at the SouthAdelaide Football Club, progressing from ‘basically a water girl’ to physiotherapist for the reserves side.

She cites her tutor, accessed under the Commonwealth Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS), as one of her key mentors during her study at master’s level. ‘It was really great to be able to speak to someone who was more experienced and had gone through the same things a year before, like exam preparations, particularly for the practical exams.’

Now that she’s a qualified physiotherapist, Stacey wants to give back to the community in Darwin where she grew up. She’s already relished the experience of being a role model by tutoring at primary schools and homework centres when she was younger. Now, she’s mentoring two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the master’s course while working full-time at a private practice in Victoria.

Mentors were a key part of the address to graduates by guest speaker Karen Schubert, APAM. Karen is Head of Unit, Women’s Health Physiotherapy at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. Reflecting on her own career, she encouraged new graduates to find a mentor, commenting that such figures can play a key role in helping them in their professional journey long after they graduate.

Karen also encouraged graduates to take advantage of opportunities that provided a challenge, clinical or otherwise. Taking some time off to explore other interests can lead to a renewed passion and, in turn, a better clinician, according to Karen.

Reflecting on her own career, she encouraged new graduates to find a mentor, commenting that such figures can play a key role in helping them in their professional journey long after they graduate.

After Karen’s address, students were awarded prizes across several categories, with each prize named for a past physiotherapy leader. It was a privilege to learn about these great physiotherapists, and the long and proud heritage of physiotherapy, through personal anecdotes from those presenting the prizes.

While all the award winners in the 2016 cohort were clearly outstanding, particular stand-outs were Paul Baccanello, APAM, awarded the Kate Gilmore Reid Prize for the highest academic achievement; and Ellie Collins who won the Elma Casely Prize for the greatest clinical and interpersonal skills of an undergraduate. Congratulations to all prize winners.

Award winners
  • APA SA Branch Student Award: Matthew Alcock, APAM
  • Academic Excellence Prize (Flinders University): Madeleine Della, APAM
  • Andrea-Warden-Flood Prize: Kate Lockwood, APAM
  • Audrey Simpson Prize: Samuel Campagnale, APAM
  • Clinical Excellence Prize (Flinders University): Stacey McKenzie, APAM
  • Elma Casely Prize (undergradate): Ellie Collins 
  • Elma Casely Prize (graduate entry): Annabelle Fagan, APAM 
  • Geoffrey Maitland Prize: Madelaine Kavanagh, APAM
  • Helen S Blair Prize: Hannah Geelan, APAM 
  • Kate Gilmore Reid Prize: Paul Baccanello, APAM
  • Physiotherapy Research Foundation Prize: Ines Serrada, APAM
  • Ruth Grant Prize (graduate entry): Renae Kelly, APAM
Postgraduate master’s (Sport and Musculoskeletal) 
  • Brooks Running Prize: Kris Kritiros
  • Marie Hammond Prize: Kris Kritiros
  • Patricia Trott Prize: Henry McGregor, APAM


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