Careers in Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

Anthony Johnstone

Physiotherapy graduate Anthony Johnstone, standing in front of a Union Jack with his arms folded across his chest.

"When I graduated, I was much more confident in my abilities and had good communication and interpersonal skills..."

Anthony Johnstone, BSc Physiotherapy graduate, now a Band 6 Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist with the Ministry of Defence.

I was 22 when I finally decided I wanted to become a physiotherapist. I had wanted to join the armed forces, but after a medical condition was picked up during my basic training I was medically discharged.

Since sport was my biggest passion, I decided to follow it as an alternative career path and from there I decided that physiotherapy was the route for me. I knew that applications for the BSc Physiotherapy degree at Essex were competitive, so to increase my chances of being accepted onto the course I managed to secure a physio assistant job in the NHS at Colchester General Hospital to help develop my basic skills and give me some experience before applying.

My degree helped me to develop as an academic and clinically as a Physiotherapist. But more importantly, Essex was the perfect environment for me to mature and develop as a young man. When I graduated, I was much more confident in my abilities and had good communication and interpersonal skills, which enabled me to build positive relationships with other health care professionals. This is extremely important for any job and is something that has continued to be of great benefit to me throughout my career.

I am currently working for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as a Band 6 MSK Physiotherapist at Colchester’s Regional Rehabilitation Unit (RRU). The overall aim of the RRU is to improve the operational effectiveness of the MOD by providing high-quality, evidence-based rehabilitation to injured service personnel.

I work as part of a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) that includes Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Consultants, Podiatrists, Physiotherapists and Exercise Rehabilitation Instructors (ERI). We provide a 3-week intensive rehabilitation course that gives patients access to all members of the team.

My main duties are to complete in-depth MSK assessments, providing a clear and accurate diagnosis and referring patients for specialist treatment if necessary. I utilise a variety of manual therapies where clinically appropriate, formulate patient-centred rehabilitation plans (using the SMART principle) in conjunction with ERI colleagues, and ensure exercises are being completed safely and effectively. I also present educational lectures and exercise classes.

I am extremely proud of working for the MOD as I have the upmost respect for our Armed Forces and I now work with them on a daily basis and help injured service personnel return to operational fitness, which is extremely rewarding. My career to date has been diverse and I have been fortunate enough to work in the NHS, private practice, elite sport with West Ham United and Arsenal FC Academies, before joining the MOD.