It is almost this time last year I wrote my last post when I attended the Student Reps Development Weekend 2015 (SRDW), except I was there as a speaker not as a student. It is coming up to 3 years post graduation this summer (not quite sure how that happenend..). Therefore I wanted to complete a final post to put closure on this chapter of my physiotherapy career. When I say closure I don’t mean literally because believe me the more you learn the less you know which will come through in this post but on the continuum of my career path I felt this was the right time to sit down and write.
I really need to give a quick summary of where I have been in the last year to reflect on the achievements and challenges I have come across. When I was writing my last post I was nearing the end of my rotation on trauma and orthopaedics. I was sad to leave a great team and had the opportunity work with elective Hip/Knee/ Spinal operations, trauma and complex Spinal patients. I initially wasn’t sure whether T+O was an area of interest but I loved the fast pace mix between MSK and Neuro and the team were fantastic to work with.
My next rotation was MSK outpatients. The team at LRCH were great, very open and flexible to change and I felt that for the first time settled in one area and reluctant to move on. Anyone who knows me will know that MSK would suit my nature of being a bit OCD organised and I love the challenge of selling a concept within a given time frame (Takes me back to my competitiveness in sales). I did however face some challenges in this area… when I was a student my MSK outpatient placements were all in outer city middle class areas and therefore working in derby with a diverse/multi-cultural population I really had to put myself in their shoes to achieve the best outcomes. Not only did I face professional challenges but also with my own mental health (not something I spoke to many people about) but I really did have a lurking black dog during my time at LRCH which even made me question if I wanted to be in outpatients (even though I love it!). It is hard to put on that confident/ positive face to inspire your patients when inside you are a feeling a fraud. Luckily coming away from some medication and adopting mindfulness on a daily basis got me back on track with the support of my partner and family (Thank you!) By the end of the rotation my mind was almost set that MSK outpatients was where I saw my career progressing but I had that slight niggle of whether I wanted to explore Neuro.
The first dilemma, a static 5 secondment became available at the end of my rotation which I obviously went for but with the slight niggle of exploring neuro. So I waited for my next rotation to come out which happened to be Neuro Outpatients (Perfect!!) . I told my line manager in MSK that although I really appreciated the secondment I really wanted to explore neuro outpatients and not rush out of rotations. I knew the skills I would develop would transfer into MSK at a later date. So off I went to neurology outpatients. Just to give a bit of background as a student I really did not like neuro…I didn’t understand it and I really lost confidence in a placement I had. I think loosing confidence as a student can really affect your career choice so my advice would be to go to the area with an open mind and you might surprise yourself. I think partly the reason for loosing confidence on my placement was coming onto an acute stroke unit after having a year out due to injury. I really thought I wasn’t cut out to be a physio and nearly quit the course (Thank you mum for making me stick at it you were right best career choice I ever made) because I just came away thinking I knew nothing. I really felt like I had imposter syndrome coming into the neurology outpatient department and they would find me out but I was welcomed into the team. We are really fortunate at derby to have a really solid supervision system and in neurology band 5’s work through a substantial in service training package which was brilliant for me having not done neuro properly since 2012. People who know me will know I like to know the answer for example how long for recovery and what is the expectation from me. So coming into neurology outpatients where most patients have long term conditions and on the rare occasions don’t have a diagnosis it really did baffle my brain to think how am I going to sell an idea if I don’t know the answer. Neurology outpatients has taught me to treat what I see and work with a hypothesis on set principles looking at neuroplasticity and what is expected of “normal movement”.Through this rotation I have been able to adopt a more flexible approach to the my treatments and with the luxury of having 1 hour with each patient it has really helped me hone my clinical reasoning with some senior support with complex cases. What was great to see in neuro outpatients is that everyone’s clinical reasoning is always being challenged and you are not the only one where the more you learn the less you know (a little tip make use of experienced physiotherapy assistants they are like guardian angels).
So currently I am in the process of applying for more senior positions. I am now more flexible with where I am going but I know outpatients is where my skills are suited. I love the one to one interaction and the challenge of changing peoples beliefs and aspirations. When I say I have set my career direction to outpatients there is always a niggle to look outwardly at other opportunities and therefore if something came up which fitted the bill I would not say I can’t as its not in my 5 year, 10 year plan. I would look to see what opportunities can assist me in my 5 year/ 10 year plan. I will always stick by what Emma Stokes said at Physiotherapy UK on “take a chance, don’t make a plan” and I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
So away from clinical aspects of my career what has been happening? Well in my last post I was talking about taking on Vice Chair of the CSP EMRN, this kind of never happened as no one stood as chair so I thought you know what I am just going to go for and see what happens and I’ve not regretted it! I have just completed one year as chair and it has been a brilliant experience. I have had the opportunity to network, speak at conferences, complete relevant training and ultimately see the network go from strength to strength (with 5 times more members attending) . We now have strong committee with a clear aim to take the EMRN forwards. Taking on such a task as a newly qualified physiotherapist was a real challenge, leading a committee of experienced clinicians and managers to a positive outcome and engaging the East Midlands has definitely been one of the years highlights. I want to take the opportunity to thank the committee for their support and commitment which has been key to success… Bring on 2016/17!
So as a final chapter to my blog I really wanted to summarise with my top tips to make it through your band 5 rotations ( This is not exhaustive just my experience).
- Enter each rotation with an open mind.. what can you take away from the rotation even if it’s not where you want to be.
- Don’t rush… there is no strict law to say you can only rotate for 2 years, make the most of developing skills in different specialities which will be transferable to your overall plan. Don’t feel pressured because other colleagues are moving to senior posts.
- Look outwardly at opportunities, how do they fit within the bigger picture for example taking on role as Chair EMRN.
- Speak to other band 5’s who have just worked in the area you are going to… they will be able to give you tips on things they found useful.
- Don’t let student experience dictate where you want to go with your career things might change.
- Keep in touch with your appraiser can they help you plan your career progression?
- Keep a log of your experiences for example IST and events, not only is this a requirement for HCPC but it allows you to look back on the things you have done.
- If you are unsuccessful at interview don’t worry about it, ask for feedback what can you do to improve?
- Network!! You don’t know what opportunities might become available because of an interaction for example attending your local regional forum.
- If you are struggling clinically or personally don’t be ashamed to ask for help. The priority is patient safety and support systems can be put in place if needs be.
This post has been a long time coming but I am glad I have finally been able to sit down and write it. I hope students/ new grads and even qualified members have found it useful to think about the experiences of a student to band 5 physiotherapist. If as a band 5 you are going through a dilemma please flick back through it is likely I have written something about it !!! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and who knows maybe I will start another one soon.
Any questions or comments please direct to @LCphysio.