Career spotlight – Clinical Exercise Physiology

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Career spotlight – Clinical Exercise Physiology

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Claire Heck

8 April 2019

Did you know managing health, injury and disease with exercise is a fast-growing industry? Meet USC Clinical Exercise Science graduate, Claire Heck. After completing Certificates III and IV in Fitness and running her own personal training business, the mum of four children was driven to continue her passion for health and fitness by starting a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Science at USC (now known as a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology).

Claire balanced her busy family and study life for four years and during this time was appointed as a USC Student Ambassador, inspiring many others like her to return to study and follow their passions.

Accredited exercise physiologists offer a range of services which include behavioural coaching, health education, exercise counselling and physical rehabilitation. They prescribe tailored exercise programs, promoting leisure-time and incidental activity, and counselling to promote a healthier lifestyle. They assess to ensure the activity is safe, effective and likely to be maintained in the long term.

Why did you decide to study your degree?

I initially enrolled in a Bachelor of Sport Exercise Science degree but became really interested in exercise pathology and the ways which exercise can reduce or reverse disease progression for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and even mental health.

I completed a USC online personality survey to reassure I had chosen the right degree which told me I’m a carer and a team player. I decided to transfer degrees, so I could combine these qualities with my love for sport and exercise to work as an allied health professional.

What was your favourite thing about your degree?

The USC teaching experience was amazing! The lecturers and tutors are working clinicians and so always delivered the learning in a current and relevant way. This made it easy to apply it when out in the field. We also completed hundreds of hours of supervised work placement which ensure we were well prepared.

What are your doing now?

I have two roles which provides lots of variety. I work two days a week at an Exercise Physiology clinic in Caloundra mostly working with Department of Veterans Affairs clients to help them overcome an injury or health condition.

I also work three days a week at a local Physiotherapy clinic working with clients with an injury or illness through Medicare and clients with a disability through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

What does an ‘average’ day in your job look like?

I work with each client to develop a person-centred program that will help them manage and improve their health outcomes.

I educate and empower clients to take an active role in their program by providing all the education and tools necessary to self-manage their acute and chronic conditions and activities.

How is your industry changing?

There’s lots of exciting research being done in this field such as around the benefits of exercise in cancer patients. This research is helping to further our practice as well as to help communicate the importance of our role to helping a wide range of people.

What is something about your career/industry that many people don’t know?

Many people can access the expertise of an exercise physiologists through their GP making a referral under a Chronic Disease Management plan.

What is your favourite thing about your job/career?

My job is very rewarding. I really enjoy seeing clients improve their health by changing their behaviours and by following research-proven methods and recommendations.

What advice would you give to people thinking about returning to study after some time?

To get the most out of your time and study, I recommend people research the best learning and study methods that work for them. Everyone is different – some people might need to watch someone to understand it better. Others might need to write it down.

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