After moving from Darwin to study in Melbourne, Candice Liddy-Stokes is carving a successful career that includes working with First Nations people.
Candice Liddy-Stokes (BPhysio 2012) learned a lot studying physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne, where she lived in Trinity College after moving from Darwin. She also learned about cold weather!
With the support of dedicated staff Candice thrived, and her confidence grew. She completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2012, and now works in the Rehabilitation Department at Palmerston Regional Hospital in Darwin’s suburbs.
In 2018, Candice established Totem Health to provide culturally sensitive and evidence-based physiotherapy services in regional Darwin and remote Northern Territory.
“I have been fortunate enough to work in so many different areas of physiotherapy that I've become more of a generalist than a specialised physio,” she says. “And I love that about this profession because there's always something else to learn and you're never bored.”
What are your strongest memories of university?
Adjusting to life away from home but also adjusting to life in the big city. The first months were hard, but I was lucky to have wonderful support both through the college I attended and within the Physiotherapy Department.
Who motivated you?
My family. My Mother and Father modelled to my sister and I how important it was to be driven to achieve in life. My Mother did this through working hard to provide every opportunity for us to do well at school, sport and music. My father modelled this to us through dedication to sport, being one of the most celebrated captains of the Northern Territory Football League and being a dedicated parent.
My sister was the first in our family to attend university.
What goals did you set yourself and have you stuck to that plan?
To gain experience in different fields of physiotherapy so I could decide where … to work [and] work towards financial stability so I could have the freedom to travel or buy a property. I definitely stuck to this plan.
I won a position as a rotating junior physiotherapist at the Royal Darwin Hospital. After just over two years I decided to apply for other positions in private practice, community health and remote health. I've also been able to travel overseas and live comfortably in my hometown with my husband and baby daughter.
How did university prepare you for your current role?
We work with people who've recently sustained or are living with complex illnesses or injuries. We have a very multicultural client cohort that makes our work so interesting.
During my time at the University of Melbourne we worked with people of all ages, with different conditions and patients with various backgrounds. We were guided and supported by incredibly dedicated lecturers to build our theoretical knowledge and best prepare for clinical placements.
How important is work life balance and how do you achieve it?
Very important. Growing up in Darwin, I developed a love for the outdoors through going camping and fishing with my family. My husband is also a Darwin local and shares this passion. I play hockey and training through the week gives me the opportunity to be social and have a mental and physical outlet.
What is your driving force?
Simply to see my patients achieve the best outcomes possible. I've seen clients, particularly First Nations people, living remotely [and] having poorer health outcomes, and I hope to one day work in an area that will help to improve health outcomes for our people.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken?
I took the opportunity to work in East Arnhem Land for a year. This allowed me to develop my skills as a physiotherapist and learn more about our people living in remote areas of the NT. I also worked as a sole trader providing physiotherapy services to people living with disabilities in remote areas. Working for myself has allowed me to learn so much about the business side of being a clinician.
What are some career highlights?
Working in remote areas with our First Nations people. Although it's hard seeing the reality of living remotely through our clients with chronic health conditions and access to minimal resources, it's always incredible working with and learning from our people.
What advice do you have for current students?
Try hard to never give up on studying what you want to study, even if it doesn't seem like you'll get that certificate at times. There were times where I needed to travel back during holidays to complete supplementary exams or extra weeks at clinical placements.
But these times provided me with the experience I needed to become a good physiotherapist. The support I received from my lecturers and my college tutors was invaluable.
What does being successful mean to you?
Ultimately, being at ease with who you are. So, achieving goals that you set yourself but also understanding that these goals may change to be contextual to where you're at in life.
What excites you most about the future?
My husband and I welcomed our first child in February  – a little daughter. Nothing could have ever prepared us for the love and joy we feel watching her develop.
I look forward to further challenges in my career and the lessons I will continue to learn from my patients and colleagues. The variety my work brings and the feeling of an opportunity to do something new being just around the corner is always exciting.