STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT: 25 Years of my life in healthcare as a Physiotherapist - DR. VEENA NAYAK

I still vividly remember the day I finished my second year pre-degree exams in 1983 from Malabar Christian College in Calicut, a town in Malabar, Kerala. Like any ambitious teenager, who either wanted to be a doctor or an engineer, the two main professions with a high social status those days, I wanted to be a doctor. Despite rigorous preparation for the various entrance examinations, a seat eluded me. My paternal aunt, who was then working as a Registrar for the NHS in the United Kingdom said ‘why don’t you take up Physiotherapy, an allied health science’?  It sounded foreign to me at that time but nevertheless I took her advice and applied to CMC Vellore, one of the few physiotherapy schools in South India then. Little did I know what destiny had in store for me there?

 On reaching the campus, I was totally impressed by the healthcare set up, and all I could think of was that I have to get a seat. Around 600 hopefuls wrote the exam.  I was overjoyed when I was among the only 30 who passed the written test. The next stage was to select the final 10 candidates, of whom only 2 would be from open category, the rest being church sponsored.  I would have to be one of the two! This was done over three days of assessment. On day one, we had group activities assessing team skills, memory, and public speaking, to name a few.  Medical check-up and physical endurance test was on the second day.  On the final day, we had to face an interview panel of five –principal, head of PMR, head of physiotherapy school, clinical head of physiotherapy and a clinical psychologist. Exhausted after 3 days of selection process, I wanted to sleep and forget the results but could I? After a sleepless night, the next morning I was overjoyed to find my name among the final 10! Thus began my journey from a student physiotherapist to a fully-fledged graduate therapist to the present as the Head of the Department of Physiotherapy.

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