Since graduating from the ESO in 2013, Katie Johnston has balanced her passion for osteopathic practice with her interest in chronic pain research, leading to professional accolades plus an internship at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham.
What was your background and what made you decide to become an osteopath?
I came to study osteopathy after leaving sixth form where I’d studied sciences and mathematics. Osteopathy appealed to me as I wanted to do something science orientated, but also to work with people. I thought it sounded like a career without some of the downsides of other medical professions (no shifts, emergencies, being able to choose where you work), and osteopaths I’d spoken to were all passionate about their jobs, so I thought I’d give it a go! The ESO was recommended to me by working osteopaths who I admired. The curriculum seemed to cover a lot of depth and the clinic seemed well set up.
When did your interest in pain research start?
As part of my M.Ost degree, I conducted a study looking at quality of life in individuals with jaw pain, using ultrasound scanning to diagnose jaw dysfunction. I presented the results at a Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy Conference and was invited to present the results at the conference of the British Medical Ultrasound Society. They subsequently published my work in their journal and it was given the award for the best research published by a graduate student that year.
How have you developed your career since then?
After graduation I started working in a couple of clinics as an associate osteopath, where I still work, and this allowed me to develop my clinical skills. Alongside working with patients (which I love) I have managed to carry out clinic-based research; this has included auditing my patients and recruiting patients for studies led by Arthritis Research UK. I am a member of the local NCOR (National Council for Osteopathic Research) research hub and Vice Chair of Bristol Osteopathic Society. I find this allows me to keep on learning and enriches my practice, giving my patients better results and providing referral options for complex cases.
Last year I spent 6 months undertaking an internship at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham; QMC is a hospital with an osteopathic department within a specialist spinal unit. The internship enabled me to spend time with leading spinal, maxillofacial and pain specialists and I studied for modules in research and chronic pain. My time was across many different departments, understanding the NHS approach to treating patients with chronic complaints. I wrote about my experience and this was published in an osteopathy magazine.
How did you become involved with the Internship at Queens Medical Centre?
The internship is organised each year by the Institute of Osteopathy, who interview and select applicants. The osteopathic team at Queens organise the placement, so you can mould your visits to departments surrounding your interests. I would certainly recommend it – I learnt a lot from it and it has opened doors for me to have more involvement with providing NHS care, and to do more research.
Has your career met your expectations?
I am lucky to have a career that I really enjoy; I love helping people to have a better quality of life, but I also have a career that allows me to have an academic aspect, which helps people on a wider scale. I’ve had lots of opportunities and have met some fantastic people!
What are your plans for the future?
I have plans in the pipeline to do some research with Bristol University Engineering Department, surrounding my interest in chronic pain. I hope to continue in private practice and further develop links with the NHS.
If you’re a graduate of the ESO and would like to share your experience of practice life, please email us at email@example.com – we’d love to hear from you.