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New specialist – Jo Kennedy

The Board welcomes our newest specialist, Jo Kennedy.

Jo is a musculoskeletal physiotherapist with a particular focus on spinal injury and treatment.

After completing a biology degree, which engendered a life-long love of research work she started her journey in the profession by studying physiotherapy in Manchester, UK.

“I’ve had an appetite to know more and improve my skills since the day I qualified, I went on every course I could and pretty quickly ended up doing my master’s at King’s College in London in 2011.

“What I love most about physiotherapy is unpicking the complex puzzles that different patients bring and it’s a real joy to tailor treatment for each individual.  I am constantly working to refine this process.”

After she finished her MSc Jo worked as a research co-ordinator for a neurosurgeon at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. Her focus there was on quality of life for patients who had undergone spinal surgery for metastatic cancer.

Despite her love of research, she found herself missing clinical work and, in 2016, she took a role as an advanced practitioner in South London. “This was an extended scope role that involved triaging patients with orthopaedic and spinal problems – mostly looking for red flags and referring to surgery as needed. I loved being back with patients.”

In 2018 Jo emigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand and, along with raising her kids, worked in private practice as a clinical director at Port Hills Physio.

But the pull for further study eventually got the best of her and in 2021 Jo started a clinical internship with Dr Mark Laslett – the first practitioner to be registered under specialist scope.

“I went into it with specialism in mind. I’d had extended scope in the UK and I wanted to do more here, then in 2023 I started a role as an “expert” physio in the Christchurch ED and am now doing that alongside working with Mark.

Asked about the next steps in her professional journey Jo talks about juggling between specialist practice and ED work but can’t help looking to do more. “I want to see an increase in advanced practice in New Zealand and of course I also want to start a PhD in the next 2-3 years”.