I interviewed physiotherapist Monica Donaldson for July 2016.
1) Tell us more about yourself.
I am a physiotherapist working mostly with musculo-skeletal issues, pregnant and postnatal women and I have a special interest in pelvic floor dysfunction in both men and women. Pelvic floor dysfunction includes conditions such as: incontinence (bladder/bowel), pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, painful sex, or inability to have sex due to fear/pain/lack of control or overactivity in the pelvic floor muscles. I am also passionate about exercise and use a number of different approaches like pilates and functional strength training to improve my clients’ posture, strength, flexibility and body awareness.
I was born and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and for the last 25 years I have lived in a number of different countries: USA, Canada, UK and Singapore. I have been practising as a physio in Singapore for the last 7 years, and I love living here with my family!
Quite early in my life, I realised I could not follow any profession that would tie me down to a desk in an office. I had a clear vision that I had to work with people, with the human body, with movement! As a keen sportsperson, I thought I would eventually end up working with athletes, so my first university degree was in Physical and Health Education (Queen’s Universtiy , Ontario, Canada). However, during the course of my studies I realised that what I enjoyed the most was injury rehabilitation, which led me to continue my studies and pursue a degree in Physiotherapy (King’s College London, UK).
When I qualified as a physiotherapist in 2000, I worked across all different clinical areas (neurological, paediatrics, respiratory, orthopaedics, etc) within the British NHS. Eventually, I decided to try out a rotation in Women’s Health, under the guidance of an incredibly inspiring physio called Becky Aston, who happens to be one of my dearest friends nowadays. I never looked back! For the past 7 years, I have worked alongside a group of health care practitioners at Body with Soul, in Rochester Park ( www.bodywithsoul.com).
2) Why do you do what you do?
I get a deep sense of reward when I impart my knowledge and use my skills to help others feel better. An important part of my treatment is educating clients and empowering them to take control of their health. I like to create a sense of partnership with my clients, so they are not only passive recipients of ‘therapy’. It is truly great when a client takes ownership of his/her body and helps him/herself get better. I feel it is a huge privilege to facilitate people towards healthier and fuller lives.
I also love the need to learn continuously in this profession. There are always new developments through research and case studies, and it’s really exciting to understand new perspectives, learn from other professionals, and in that way, you can never be stagnant.
3) How do you find time for all that?
I would always make time to work as I don’t think I would be a fulfilled person without it. As a mother of two kids (4 and 10 year old), I have become a good juggler, and have had to re-shape my ideas of perfection! I am also fortunate to have a super cool husband, who is an awesome Dad and shares the load of parenthood. Finally, having a great domestic helper is an enormous relief and allows us both to continue investing in our careers.
4) What are your future plans?
I would like to study and understand more about psychology, the human mind and behaviour. I feel that would enhance my clinical practice even more!
I do also have a dream of working in a much more collaborative and integrated way with other professionals when dealing with more complex clients. Many people with more chronic and complicated issues report that their medical care is very fragmented and they wish their health care professionals would liaise more with one another.
5) Any advice for others?
Never stop searching for a career that fulfills your heart. Look for inspiration in other human beings, and make connections with them, be positive and try to smile more! In fact, try to laugh, a lot!
Note: I have not vested interest or benefit from interviewing Monica Donaldson. I am doing so in the pure intention to inspire more people.