Brush with fate led to osteopathic career

News News & events

27 Feb 2018

A failed somersault on the beach changed Kesava Kovanur Sampath’s life in a moment. Sampath was 22 years old, in his final year of physiotherapy training in India with a bright future ahead when this happened.

“The fracture in my neck was missed for six weeks and had started to set by itself. I had to put up with migraines for seven months as well as a numb hand. That’s when I went to an osteopath and that got some great results.”

The migraines subsided, feeling returned to his hand and Kesava decided to do his Masters in Osteopathy. After practising in Auckland and Blenheim for a number of years, he signed up to a PhD and was delighted to accept a position teaching the new Bachelor of Musculoskeletal Health at Ara, which started this week. The degree pathways to the one-year Post Graduate Diploma in Osteopathy also at Ara.

(From left) Te Awhina, Donna Cornelius, tutors Kesava Kovanur Sampath and Emma Fairs, Joanne Wheeler and Kris Esguerra on the first day of the new Bachelor of Musculoskeletal Health, which leads to a qualification in osteopathy.

Emma Fairs was younger when she discovered osteopathy. “I used to do a lot of horse riding and I fell off a horse and hurt my neck and an osteopath fixed it,” she says. “I was 15 years old. I thought, ‘I’ll do that for a career’.”

In both cases, accidents ultimately led to excellent careers. “Yes, it’s a rewarding career, I love it, I’ve been in practice for 25 years and I’ve been quite involved in different aspects of the profession, from practice to accreditation and regulatory involvement, so really education was the next step,” Fairs said.

Now they are both training the osteopaths of the future.

For Sampath, Ara was an excellent fit. “The philosophy was quite appealing for me. It has always been a journey for me and Ara means journey in Te Reo Māori.”

The new osteopathy qualification is only the second in New Zealand, and fills a gap in the supply of osteopaths to the South Island. Students can graduate in four years and the qualification has specialist knowledge of care of children and pregnant women embedded within it. This is in contrast to osteopathy programmes in Australia and England, which are lacking in this particular training. Overseas programmes also currently pathway from a three-year degree to a two-year Masters but are in the process of moving to the four year model that Ara has already adopted.

Workplace experience is an important aspect of the programme from the first year of training.

Fifteen students started the new Bachelor of Musculoskeletal Health at Ara this week. They will pathway to the Postgraduate Diploma in Osteopathy, which means they can apply to the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand to register as an osteopath.

The students will have had their own experiences with osteopathy, but hopefully not though accidents as dramatic as Fairs’ and Kesava’s.