What made you pursue a career in Physiotherapy?
When I left ccollege,I gained my Fitness Instructor certificate. I knew I didn’t want to do it forever but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. My manager at the time encouraged me to look at University Courses to compliment my fitness knowledge. I didn’t have the A levels for Physiotherapy so I chose to do a course in Injury Rehabilitation.
I took a year out to work abroad after this degree and applied for an Undergrad Physiotherapy course while I was away. I had an interview with the University of Brighton. I was accepted on the course and started on my return.
As a junior I rotated through all the different specialities and knew I wanted to work with inpatients within a medical setting. On joining the Trust as a Band six I secured a post in the medial team. It covered the care of the elderly, medical, respiratory, oncology and haematology wards and the front door services. Soon after joining I rotated into the Rapid Response Team that cover ED, Elderly Short Stay and the assessment units for medical and elderly.
I quickly realised that this was the area I wanted to peruse and applied for a permanent position within the team. I knew I wanted to be based in one specific area but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in, I love the rapid response team and the areas we cover as it’s such a broad scope of patients we will have on our caseload, I feel like you get a bit of every speciality. I work Monday to Friday - 8am to 4pm - and participate in a seven-day weekend service rota.
Does your job role live up to your expectations?
I think it has exceeded it. The reason I enjoy working in the front end of the hospital is that you never know what’s going to come next. You may be assessing someone with an ankle fracture one minute and then the next patient may have been admitted with neurological concerns. I have a particular interest in spinal injury patients. These can occur frequently in Emergency Department (A&E); it definitely keeps you on your toes and you have to use a broad range of skills.
Describe a typical day in your department
Directly as a team I work with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and therapy assistants. However, day-to-day, we work with a range of other professions: doctors, registered nurses, health care assistants, the frail older persons’ nurses. Depending on the patients we may work alongside speech and language therapists and orthotists. Currently my team covers the Emergency Department (A&E), frailty unit, and Medical Assessment Unit (MAU).
We can be called anytime to attend ED to assess patients. Between the frailty unit and the assessment unit we carry a caseload of patients that are referred by doctors or nurses, or anyone we identify as needing therapy input. We attend daily huddles for handover of patients, speak to patients and relatives to gain information about patients have been coping leading up to their admission. This helps us complete functional assessments that would include looking at bed transfers and patients mobility status.
We may have to complete neurological assessments or even respiratory assessments and treatments. Working in the front door services a lot of our day is based around assessments for discharge planning from hospital and admission avoidance, so we do a lot of referrals and communicating with the community teams.
What challenges do you face within your job role?
Of course, Covid-19 has been a big challenge over the last year. We all had to be extremely flexible and adapt to a constantly changing environment. You come across difficult situations, especially working in the front door services. If you have a patient that has a particularly complex discharge plan this can be a challenge, but it makes you think and to bounce ideas off of your colleagues really helps. There’s never a dull moment.
What are the best bits about the job?
Working with patients and when know you have done something to help them that has avoided them coming into the hospital and getting them home. That’s always really rewarding. But also the team; we have a great one and being around people that are positive and want to help each other makes it even better
What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good Physiotherapist and staff member?
I think one of the main qualities in being a physiotherapist is communication and listening skills. Sometimes when you think of physio you automatically think about physical/exercise and the assessment side. Often we are one of the professions that will spend more time sitting talking with patients and relatives and sometimes that’s what they need more than anything. So being able to talk to patients and relatives and other staff and being able to listen to concerns and feedback is really important.
Tell us more about the career/education path you took and the qualifications you gained
As I mentioned above I didn’t have a direct route in to physiotherapy. When I was at college I was actually studying music technology and was quite certain I wanted to work in radio behind the scenes. While I was at college I did a short course in fitness instruction and I worked in the gym on and off for around ten years.
On leaving college I took a complete u-turn and studied Injury Rehabilitation at Middlesex University. I believe this really helped build my confidence in meeting new people and learning the foundations about anatomy and physiology in more detail. I decided to take a year out and work abroad in a school for a year and apply for a physiotherapist degree.
I initially wanted to do a masters as it was for two years. However, after speaking to universities and with my learning style, I’m not sure the more intense course would have benefited me. I chose to go back to undergraduate training and was accepted in to the University of Brighton. I passed my degree with an upper second class with honours. I didn’t like school and didn’t want to go to University on leaving school, but I’m really pleased I went down this pathway and I don’t see myself doing anything else.
What advice would you give students looking into pursing this career?
Research the job. Physiotherapy can take you down lots of different routes. If one area doesn’t sound like it is for you, there are probably other areas that you will love. Try to go on some work experiences within the NHS. This will help you to get a feel for the different areas and what a day may look like as a physiotherapist. The fact that there are so many options to specialise in and rotate through makes it a great career.