Past students prize APA membership


Victoria Hutton and Jackson Zhou are in the early years of their careers, yet are already forging pathways that are built on a strong foundation of community, learning and leadership.

Both Victoria and Jackson are recipients of the APA’s National Board of Directors Student Prize, which recognises contributions to both the APA and university, the support of others, along with academic merit.

Since graduating and starting their first roles in physiotherapy—one in a metropolitan city and the other in a regional area—leaning on peers for support and maintaining professional development is a key component of their carer plan.

They each say the APA is helping advance progression in their chosen profession.

Victoria Hutton

With a keen interest in sport and a passion for helping others—from volunteering in nursing homes to attending camps for children with disabilities while at high school— physiotherapy was the ideal career choice for Victoria.

‘I wanted a job where I could combine all of these interests,’ she says. After graduating with Honours from CQUniversity in Rockhampton, Victoria is two years into enjoying her first physiotherapist role at Mackay Base Hospital.

‘It has given me experience rotating around the different areas of the hospital, where I have been able to expand my skills in a variety of areas,’ she says.

‘Highlights include gaining my ICU competency to work on-call shifts, one of which included providing respiratory care of a singular patient in the lead up to the retrieval of their organs.’

The opportunity is building on interests initially sparked after being awarded the Board of Directors Student Prize in 2018.

‘Being awarded the prize led to me being the student representative on the APA NAC (National Advisory Council) at meetings in Melbourne, as well as attending the APA conference in Adelaide in 2019 on a bursary.

'I met many like-minded new graduate physiotherapists and attended many lectures in different areas of physiotherapy, which allowed me to further my interest in areas such as pain and cancer care.’

Education remains a big part of her focus, with membership of the APA ‘helping her career’ through access to professional development.

She remotely accesses courses and lecture series, and uses travel discounts to attend training in other regions within the state.

‘Where I live in regional Queensland, professional development courses are often limited, (so) it’s enabled me to have access to further training that I would normally not have access to.’

Victoria has maintained membership since joining as a student, and her career goal is to give back to the industry that is currently nurturing her.

‘For the next few years I hope to continue working regionally in a rotating physio role to expand my skills across more areas and become a confident generalist,’ she says.

‘My goal after that is to begin working on an education pathway, starting with supervising students on placement, tutoring at university and eventually complying the necessary studies to lecture in physiotherapy at university.

'I am passionate about learning and this career. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire future physiotherapists on our wonderful profession.’

Her advice to young physiotherapists is simple: ‘Put yourself out there for any learning experience and take advantage of all opportunities that come your way.

'Even if it’s a learning experience that is out of your comfort zone, the best way to learn and grow confidence is to just put yourself into the situation.’

Jackson Zhou

In 2017, Jackson was the recipient of the National Board of Directors Student Prize.

He graduated from University of Sydney the following year and has been developing his skills at private rheumatology centre BJC Health in Chatswood, New South Wales.

‘I strive to help to changes the lives of those with various conditions, including rheumatic conditions,’ he says.

It was during his final years of high school at James Ruse Agricultural High School that Jackson knew he wanted to pursue a health-related career.

‘I disliked the thought of being stuck behind a desk job,’ he says. ‘I also had a passion for biomechanics and sports, so I chose to study physiotherapy at the University of Sydney.’

Throughout his studies, extra-curricular activities were a priority, with volunteer work for St John Ambulance, assisting at APA-hosted events, such as the City2Surf and Student Job Show, and involvement at university societies, such as mental health organisation batyr, Sydney Uni Physio Society and Variety Children’s Society.

‘Being involved in various activities ended up being a balance between juggling academic, social, and extracurricular lifestyles, particularly in my final year of university—and, it was also the year that I enjoyed the most.’

After being awarded the student prize, Jackson accepted an offer to be the national student representative, network facilitator for the Asia-Western Pacific Region, and a member of the WCPT Future committee. He continues to show leadership as the new-graduate representative on the New South Wales APA Branch Council.

‘All of these roles have been instrumental in my career progression as they have helped me in my ability to communicate, network, and form positive relationships with people.’

Jackson says the APA’s continuing professional development courses and advocacy work are beneficial for career progression.

‘One of the great examples of this is the annual APA conference where, on top of learning lots of the newest research, it is also a great opportunity to socialise and catch up with other physiotherapists across the nation.’

For students, he says extracurricular activities, such as volunteering, joining societies or community groups, are equally important as academic studies as they help build interpersonal skills.

‘Have an interest, be brave, step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself, because these activities can also lead to personal improvement.

'As a physiotherapist, particularly when we are new, there is always something new to learn or skills to improve and this will help with patient outcomes.

'Be a sponge— absorb everything you can and be willing to accept and act upon feedback.’

Jackson’s future plans include immediate and long-term goals, such as learning new ways to improve patient care, and later running his own multidisciplinary private practice.

‘As a physiotherapist, the significant difference we can make to someone’s life can be mind-blowing.

'The ability to empower and guide individuals to be able to take control of their conditions, while smashing their goals, is a great aspect of the job… I am grateful to be in a position where people look towards me to provide assistance in time of need and this is a truly unique position to be in.'


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