Finish line in sight for flying physio
All images used with permission.
Treating a patient fresh out of the intensive care unit is nothing like competing in front of 30,000 roaring spectators at a Commonwealth Games. It’s even more daunting.
“It can be pretty overwhelming,” ACU final year physiotherapy student Naa Anang said.
The Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) member has faced a variety of performance pressures in her track and field career but practical placement was something else.
Backed by years of theory and training, the time had come – backed by a qualified supervisor – to test her skills and clinical reasoning in a hospital setting.
“The educator encouraged us to be independent, and I thought ‘Are you sure?’,” Naa said.
“Once I got over that initial fear I thought, OK, I can do this. Yes, it was challenging, but from a clinical reasoning perspective it was relatively simple.”
Rising to the challenge
Faith, study, sport and family have provided many layers to Naa’s rich story
Her Ghanaian origin – her name means princess - could be one chapter. A series of injuries, including stress fractures in both shins, would be another.
Winning the 100m-long jump double at the 2019 national championships was a memorable twist.
Then there’s the exhausting 14-hour-day schedule of prac, revision, part-time work and training.
Throughout the year she also finds time to volunteer at Nexus Care, a charity organisation that provides food parcels and emergency financial assistance.
She may not be the one who at the end of the day turns off the floodlights at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre. But that would not be a surprise if she did.
Amid all that, the 28-year-old has clocked career-best times in 2023.
Her 11.20 seconds into a stiff headwind in Melbourne on February 23 indicated the 11.11 national 100m record was under threat.
Further improvement would earn her a ticket to Budapest for the World Championships in August.
“I back myself so that all these years training hasn’t been in vain,” she said.
“I’m happy being healthy and pushing boundaries (and) I want to qualify for worlds but to focus on anything above that would be detrimental.”
What now for Naa?
Naa has now completed three of her clinical practice placements, musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiorespiratory, and is nearing completion of her degree.
Membership of ACU’s EAPP has added support and flexibility to her higher education journey.
Only now is she beginning to ponder where her education might lead.
Her exposure to athletics has provided her with uncommon perspectives on working in high performance sport.
“We’re high maintenance,” she joked. “If I injure myself on a weekend I’m on the phone to a physio straight away.”
She feels drawn towards women’s health and will seek experience in that field.
While many of the physiotherapy cohort with whom she commenced in 2016 are already working in allied health, Naa would change nothing.
“Everyone’s journey is different,” she said. “If it takes me longer then so be it.
“I love that I get to study and invest in my journey.”
Naa Anang is a member of ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program and studies a Bachelor of Physiotherapy.
Learn more about ACU.