If you’d have asked me two years ago whether I would, one day soon, travel to Norway to work with physiotherapists from the Critical Physiotherapy Network, I would have said you had been eating too many pickled herrings. But life is full of surprises, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve just returned to New Zealandafter spending a lovely month working at Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø, sharing ideas about the future of physiotherapy with some of the most critically interesting people I have come across in the profession.
The invite to go to Norway came, in part, out of a meeting of CPN members at the In Sickness and In Health conference in Mallorca last year. Prior to that a number of our Scandinavian members had contributed to our article on Connectivity (link to the full paper here). We’d also features a couple of Norwegian physiotherapists in blog ‘interviews’ (see profiles of Wenche Bjorbækmo, Tone Dahl-Michelsen and Tobba Sudman). So working with people across the Network had brought many of us together. But an invite to actually teach in Norway and meet many of the people I had read about and studied was a real joy.
I got to spend time with dozens of lecturers and students at the various universities, and all of them were incredibly generous with their ideas and their time. It was particularly interesting to discuss many similar tensions and issues, despite the fact that we worked on completely opposite sides of the world. There are some particular people I really wanted to acknowledge and thank though. These people are outstanding researchers and teachers, and incredibly kind hosts:
Firstly, Wenche Bjorbækmo, for helping to organise the whole trip and for being so generally lovely. A trait shared by all of the people I worked with in my week in the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Oslo. The same can be said of Tone Dahl-Michelson at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. I had a lovely time discussing curriculum reform with the staff and clinical educators from the school.
In Bergen, Målfrid Råheim, Tobba Sudman, Randi Sviland and I met with staff from the University of Bergen and discussed critical and radical new approaches to physiotherapy research, theory and practice. Once again, people gave up their precious time to talk about issues that are close to all of our hearts.
And finally, to the far north and the warm hospitality offered by Siri Moe, Gunn Kristin Oeberg, the staff and students I met at the northernmost university in the world.
For those of you who are actively involved in the CPN, you will know that the potential for similar exchanges is becoming limitless – especially with advent of fast broadband connections. For those of you who sit on the margins, unsure about the merits of being part of an organisation like ours, feel free to use my experience as a stimulus to look across the Network for people you would like to collaborate with. We are all, to some extent, operating in hostile territory among colleagues who often have very little idea about our ideas and interests.
There are people out there, though, who do think like you – or at least think in stimulating and interesting ways about the future of the profession and are keen to hear from others and share. I know, I’ve seen some of them just recently, and they’re really lovely.