Ruthy Pritchard: respiratory specialist physiotherapist

Ruthy's story

Ruthy Pritchard graduated in BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy in 2007. She currently works as a respiratory specialist physiotherapist in the chest clinic at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust.

"Location was key for me, because I had a young family. I liked the problem based learning model of teaching, which suited my learning style."

"I was a mature student, with a young family when I started my degree. I found the teachers very supportive, approachable and flexible. We were the first ever intake on a new course, and I think we all supported each other to make it a success.

"The library had a lot of resources and the staff were very helpful – I was a bit of an IT virgin, and they provided me with all the help at the right time, throughout the course. It was very much appreciated at the time – I didn’t even know how to download a lecture!

"I was also dyslexic which I was screened for, but never properly diagnosed. This made studying a lot harder for me. The support was there, but with so much more going on in my life, I chose to 'find a way', instead of getting the help I needed. If I had to do it again, I would be diagnosed sooner and get the help I needed."

Ruthy on physiotherapy at Plymouth:


  • the course is very well taught, the structure is very good and the tutors are supportive
  • there are many good resources available to suit different needs
  • student life in Plymouth is fun, safe and diverse
  • education is encouraged and appreciated regardless of age!

"Plymouth equipped me with skills beyond the clinical training:

  • it prepared me to be an effective problem solver
  • it taught me to evaluate the learning process, to be part of a team and to accept differences of opinion
  • it taught me to recognise strengths and weakness in a positive, constructive way
  • it taught me about learning from failure, and learning from success.

"Studying at Plymouth definitely changed how I see myself, it gave me confidence and direction. It taught me how to enjoy and appreciate long life learning. 

"It allowed me to enjoy small personal achievements which then accumulated to great achievements (to me anyway!). It made me believe I could achieve anything if I worked hard enough and committed to my self-development as a clinician."

Putting the theory into practice

"As a physiotherapy student, we did five placements of five weeks. In the short term, it allowed me to apply theoretical knowledge into practice and allowed me to gain valuable experience in the work place. It also allowed me to develop the necessary basic clinical skills to become a safe practitioner.

"In the long term, looking back – it was on my second placement in the respiratory wards, where I made the decision to pursue respiratory medicine as a speciality. This allowed me to focus my learning and career development.

"Straight after finishing my last placement I got a job as a physiotherapy assistant. There were not many physiotherapy jobs at the time, so this experience allowed me secure my first band 5 post. 

"I think it is very important to allow yourself time to complete core clinical rotations to have a solid foundation of skills and experience. This allows you to be able to transfer those skills and enhance them as you grow as a clinician in senior roles.

"I did clinical rotations in neurosurgery, cardiothoracics, trauma and orthopaedics, musculoskeletal outpatients and neuro rehabilitation. I was part of the respiratory on call/weekend rota covering all clinical areas in the hospital."

"Having developed an interest in respiratory medicine, I got a band 6 respiratory rotation post which allowed me to further develop my skills. I did back to back nine-month rotations in the acute respiratory wards, covering haematology and oncology, followed by a rotation in cardiothoracics.

"Throughout my junior and senior rotations, I attended a number of study days, conferences and symposiums, I enjoyed studying and reading subjects related to my area of practice to benefit my patients and enhance my learning whilst acquiring new clinical skills.

"A new physiotherapy position was created in the Home Ventilation service team. The team which is nurse led, provides non-invasive ventilation and tracheostomy ventilation support to patients with chronic respiratory failure. This developmental post gave me the opportunity to start postgraduate education.

"I have completed five postgraduate modules at master’s level, giving me 110 credits. I am hoping to at least finish with a postgraduate diploma in advanced practice. We will see!

"Having six years under my belt in a specialist post, some serious postgraduate education, extended scope clinical skills, inpatient and community experience, allowed me to progress onto a band 7 post, Community Matron for long term conditions."

"The best and most exciting thing I have done in my career has been to successfully complete the independent non-medical prescriber course at master’s level. This course, alongside, my other MSc modules in respiratory practice allowed me to be the first physiotherapist in Plymouth to be appointed as a Community Matron for long term conditions. I hope this will open the doors to other physiotherapists to take post on what previously were nurse’s only roles."

Physiotherapy at Plymouth

"It's not just about sports, there is a huge variety in the profession and that's the beauty of being a physiotherapist - the variety, the diversity."

Learn to work in diverse practice settings, including neurological, sports and respiratory, in a variety of healthcare locations including hospitals, specialist rehabilitation centres as well as patients’ homes. Our innovative, problem-based learning approach means that you learn from ‘real-life’ clinical scenarios that reflect conditions that physiotherapists treat. This course is endorsed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Study BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy