Rob Lowe – charting a new path of service in podiatry
After a career in the Royal Navy, Rob decided his passion for healthcare had not been fully realised, and embarked on a mission to become a highly skilled health professional by studying podiatry as a mature student. Rob gives an insight into how the University helped him find the perfect journey into civilian life.
How did you feel about leaving the forces?

After serving in the Royal Navy for 27 years, change can be difficult. It was a time of some anxiety. However, you always know your time in the Services will come to an end and I was focused on what the next step in my career path was going to be.

Did you consider employment and retraining?
Absolutely. I saw going to University as the perfect route into civilian life, while also offering an opportunity to gain an internationally recognised qualification. 

Describe your experience applying for study

I had previously completed a BSc whilst still serving so I had some previous knowledge of the processes involved. Fortunately, I was applying to the same course as my wife so we were able to help and support each other through any difficulties. The hardest part was writing a personal statement that reflected all of my skills, experience and qualifications.

Why did you choose Podiatry?

My wife was interested in completing a Podiatry degree and I went along to an open day with her. 
When I was able to see all of the opportunities and diversity of work streams I immediately thought it offered everything I was looking for. 
My specific interest was with musculoskeletal injuries but the opportunities to treat a diverse population in foot and nail care, diabetes, rheumatology, peadiatrics, and nail surgery, all on the same day and as part of the NHS or in Private Practice, was the variety I was looking for.
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How was your University experience as a mature student?

For me, there was a definite transition from Service life to University life. However, some things did not change such as turning up on time for lectures and placements in the right rig with the right kit. 
There was a balance required as I still had a fairly young family at the time so school runs, holidays and child care all had to be factored in but the University supported me with this. 

Watch our BSc (Hons) Podiatry video

Programme Leader Dr Joanne Paton explains what's it like to study podiatry at the University of Plymouth.

What do you think are the barriers to higher education for those leaving the forces?

Transference of military skills, courses, experience, and qualifications into the set criteria required (academic qualifications) and how this can all be reflected in a personal statement. We all need to earn a living and when you leave the Services you may already have a significant amount of financial responsibilities that need to be met. It is difficult to balance a job with University studies. 

What would you say to others leaving the forces and thinking of studying a university course?

Speak to the Programme Leads and get in touch with the University to discuss your current skill set and how it can help you access your required course. 
Don’t just look at the website and dismiss it based on entry criteria. Go to an open day and see everything on offer. 

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying podiatry please visit our BSc (Hons) Podiatry page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Health Professions, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the School of Health Professions are currently doing, please visit the health and social work interest area.

BSc (Hons) Podiatry - image courtesy of Shutterstock