The Athletic Therapy course at DCU has paved the way for many people to follow different paths, but for one of the first graduates, it has opened up the door to a career in medicine.
Cillian MacSuibhne was among the first class to graduate from the increasingly popular course in 2009 and it was his experiences during that time that prompted him to go into medicine.
The 26-year-old from Leixlip has just completed his third year at the Royal College of Surgeons, and although he acknowledges that he has taken a slightly longer route, he believes that it will prove hugely beneficial to him.
“The idea of doing medicine came to me initially in 2008 when I was on placement in the University of Pittsburgh. I was doing some work with the Pittsburgh Steelers and other teams and I got exposure to a lot of sports physicians and the medical world.
“That really got me thinking and when I came home I discussed the idea with Noel McCaffrey and Enda Whyte and decided that it was something I wanted to do”, explained Cillian.
Although it will mean studying for nine years, Cillian believes that going into medicine with an Athletic Therapy qualification is a huge advantage.
“Studying medicine can be very general but the advantage for me is that I went into it with a massive body of knowledge in terms of sport.
“Once I finish in 2015 and complete an internship, I can choose a speciality and that could be orthopedic surgery, or a GP with expertise in sports injury.
“There is no doubt that Athletic Therapy has really set me up well. Even in terms of dealing with patients and building up a rapport with them, it has been a great advantage.
“A lot of people go into medicine not knowing what it is really about, but I was fortunate to be very well prepared”, he continued.
The other advantage for Cillian is that he has been able to practice as an Athletic Therapist while studying medicine.
“I have been involved with the Dublin Minor team for the past four years and in 2012 won the All-Ireland so it was good to be part of that along with Noel McCaffrey who was team doctor.”
Cillian has just returned from a four-week stint in Cuba as part of his course to observe the health system and found that to be a very interesting experience.
“Myself and my girlfriend, Claire, who is studying medicine in England decided to head to Cuba and it was amazing to compare it to what we have here.
“They have a three-tier system which is geared towards keeping hospitals clear for those who are sick, and things like x-rays are performed in polyclinics.
“It is all free as part of Castro’s vision of providing all citizens with a house, food and water, education and health. That policy has been a success in terms of health and education with 98 per cent literacy being the highest in the world.
“However, after that they have very little and not much money to spend on anything else, added Cillian who is looking forward to a break over the summer before returning to his studies in September.