Physiotherapy: Anne Keng

Anne Keng (DPT 2016) works as a Physiotherapist at Flex Sports Physiotherapy and Port Melbourne Physiotherapy and Pilates.

What led you to study at the University of Melbourne?

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada surrounded by the beautiful mountains and the not-so beautiful rain. I met two Aussie sport physiotherapists whose accents were not only highly amusing but also whose way of practice re-energized and inspired me to pursue this career further. Admittedly, there was something about Australia that has always fascinated me. To us Vancouverites, Australia is not only internationally recognised for its contribution to sports physio, but it is also the mythical land down under with three of my favourite things: kangaroos, beaches, and surfers. I came across the University of Melbourne and was immediately impressed with the variety in placements and course selection the Doctor of Physiotherapy program offered. Learning from renowned leaders in the field, in a city with infinitely better weather and an obsession with sports? I was sold.

What are your strongest memories at the University of Melbourne? 

After two degrees and seven years of university, only now do I completely understand all the motivational memes telling you never to take student life for granted. A shout out to the 2016 DPT cohort – thank you for an amazing three years beginning with sunny days at South Lawn continuing on to ridiculous betting, hip hop parties, prac room shenanigans, and… ping pong. Would you believe it was also in this cohort that I met my current partner and travel buddy of ten countries? I couldn’t either. I was fortunate enough to also attain a scholarship to live at Queen’s College in my first year, which added an entirely different dimension to university life. One word: Hogwarts. Despite the gigantic dining hall and the black robes, it is again the people who I remember most. Living at the post-graduate residences at Queens expanded my social network here in Australia and allowed me to make close friendships outside of physiotherapy. There were road trips, Saturday morning chicken nuggets, a game called pumpkin, late night Maccas runs, and dumplings… lots of dumplings.

What goals did you set yourself when you finished University and have you stuck to that plan?

I knew I wanted to work in private practice due to my interest in musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy. It was important for me to find a job with, foremost, a positive culture and secondly, ongoing mentorship and PD. I was fortunate enough to find two part-time roles that provided both. I was excited about the variety in working across two different clinics and was determined to work hard, putting in 50-hour weeks across five weeknights and Saturdays. While I gained a tremendous amount of experience, my work-life balance suffered. After a year in the workforce, I began to gain more self-awareness and understand my philosophy and personal approach to treatment. The greats have always said two things: work smarter, not harder and don’t settle. I dedicated my time towards pursuing opportunities that really appealed to me and am now in roles that complement my values as a physio and provide me with that coveted work-life balance. I now work predominantly with active clientele, including weekend warriors, adolescent athletes, trail runners, recreational gym-goers, and the ever popular F45 trainees.

What does a normal day at work look like for you?

Working at two different clinics, there is no such thing as a normal day and that variety is something I highly enjoy. I can be anywhere from dry needling a patient in a treatment room, to teaching a group class in the Pilates studio, to working one-on-one with a client on strength and conditioning in the gym space, to taping a player’s ankle on the soccer field, to walking along the beach during lunch breaks.

What/who motivated you at University?

I have always been motivated to study hard and produce work that I can be proud of, but I also learned early on the significance of a balanced lifestyle. If I’m answering this question honestly, it would be holidays. Preparing for placements, studying for exams, and completing assignments were all based on the scheduled university breaks. Assignment due just after Easter? No problem. Work hard to finish it early without compromising quality and enjoy the holidays gallivanting around Australia (or the world for that matter) freely.

What motivates you now?

Physiotherapy is a continually evolving profession and while this may be my inner nerd speaking, I really do enjoy the learning that comes along with it. I love the challenges, both clinical and non-clinical, that private practice offers and am excited by the prospect of ongoing personal growth and development as a health practitioner and a leader. I enjoy the opportunities to create meaningful relationships among patients and colleagues alike. It’s amazing to see the outcomes that result when you care about your patients and treat them holistically as a person rather than just a condition. Nothing brings greater satisfaction than getting a client back to sport or moving even better than when they came in. While I am constantly surprising myself with the minor details I can somehow remember from that anatomy lecture in the Berkeley building two years ago, there is still so much out there for me to learn and experience personally. And that excites me the most.

What advice do you have for current students?

You choose physiotherapy for a reason. Discover what area of physiotherapy excites you and follow it through, no matter how challenging. Maintain your passion by not making it your everything. Again, comes the phrase- work smarter, not harder. It’s important to put in the time and your due diligence, but also remember that balance is everything. Invest in personal growth and development so that you can be a well-rounded person. Stay committed to your other interests and hobbies. Network. You’ll hear this time and again like those annoying radio advertisements, but there is significant value in meeting and connecting with others who will both inspire and challenge you. Most importantly, go on holidays!

What is a highlight of your career so far?

I was part of a group that was invited to speak at the APA Momentum Conference 2017 in Sydney. We presented pivotal work on moving towards LGBTI-inclusive practice in physiotherapy and were fortunate to receive an award. We were honoured to receive such high recognition for the work that we started as university students and are hopeful for the future reach of this project. It is a privilege to be a leader in this space as I proudly stand up for equality in healthcare.