Top Contributor for the month of July – Wonderful Wanda!

Wanda makes a quiet, but brilliant contribution to the team! Her work to update the Sports content on Physiopedia is unprecedented; as she is meticulous about exploring the latest evidence and ensuring that we have amazing sports related content to share on Physiopedia.  She has recently moved to focus more on developing courses for Physioplus so expect some amazing new courses from her!

She is also a wonderfully generous colleague, a PhD candidate and a dedicated mom! I am sure if we ask her nicely, she will share her time management and endless energy tips & tricks with us!  Please join me in congratulating Wanda for being our Top Contributor this month and for making fantastic contributions to the world of physiotherapy. 

Your name:  Wanda van Niekerk

Time active with Physiopedia: Exactly 2 years this month. I did the Volunteer Orientation Course in June 2018.

Current role with Physiopedia: I try to look after the Sports Physiotherapy content on Physiopedia and recently joined the Physioplus team as a Learning Architect. A Learning Architect helps to build the courses offered through Physioplus and also updates any associated Physiopedia pages. It is great fun! 

Where did you go to university/college? I did my undergraduate studies at Stellenbosch University and a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy at the University of Cape Town. At the moment I am working on my Ph.D., also at the University of Cape Town.

Where do you work? I have been a non-practising physiotherapist (PT) for the last couple of years, focusing on raising three kids. But I used to own my own practice and also worked in private practice, treating mostly sports injuries and working with school and professional sports teams or athletes. Nowadays, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer working on my studies and Physioplus courses and am enjoying every single moment!

Describe your role: I am focusing more on research now as part of my studies and am truly enjoying it. When I was still practising, I mainly treated sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions and loved the excitement of the sports world. My practice was at a prestigious high school and I saw lots of very good young sportsmen and women; some of which have achieved great results in professional sports, which is lovely to watch from the couch, these days.

What is the most rewarding part of being a PT? Being able to help someone and seeing how the rehabilitation process makes a difference, not only physically but emotionally as well. I used to work with many adolescents and students. Working with motivated young people and changing their perspectives on how to prevent and manage injuries, will always be something that I am passionate about!

What are some of the more challenging aspects about being a PT?  Working in sports, there is always the pressure of getting an athlete to return to play as soon as possible. Dealing with this pressure from athletes, their parents and coaches can be quite challenging.

What are some of your professional passions? I am obviously passionate about sports physiotherapy, especially relating to injuries in young cricket fast bowlers. Injury prevention and biomechanics are also two areas of physiotherapy that fascinates me.

What are a few of your personal passions? I love to spend time in the kitchen, baking and dabbling in the art of crochet. I absolutely love reading and am always in search of a good book. My family and I love spending time on the family game farm – one of the many privileges of living in Africa. I have recently taken up golf, but that is still a work in progress…

What would be your advice to a newly graduating physiotherapist? Always ask questions and be open to learning new things!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Mmmm, difficult to answer. I don’t see myself going back to actual “hands-on” physiotherapy, but I would love to be more involved in research.

What are the best things about being a Physiopedia volunteer? The team! What an amazing bunch of people and the positive and encouraging vibe!

How has being a Physiopedia volunteer helped your professional development/career progression? I joined as a volunteer as I was looking for a new challenge. Physiopedia provided me with a way to still stay up-to-date with the latest evidence and make a valuable contribution to the profession that I love. Being part of Physiopedia as a volunteer made me realize that I really do enjoy research and it has inspired me to get started with a Ph.D., which is something that I have always wanted to do!

What are your hopes and aspirations for Physiopedia? That Physiopedia will be the “Go-To” resource for PTs all over the world, providing evidence-based knowledge that will enable all PTs to make a difference in the lives of their patients.

What is your favourite Physioplus course?  That’s an easy one – The Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy course.

Anything else you would like to share? Being part of the Physiopedia team has been, and still is, an amazing journey! It is awesome to connect with PTs from all over the world and to learn new perspectives. Thanks to Rachael and Tony and the rest of the team, for making this such a positive experience.