Decisions, Dilemmas and Diversion

It has been a while since I wrote my last post. I have been very busy since starting my new job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and I have also continued to  work at West Bromwich Albion FC and Harborne Physio at Barefoot Birmingham. So I have barely had time to sit down never mind write my blog. As you may be aware from my last post my first rotation has been critical care rehab which has been incredible. I have been able to see some of the long term rehab patients who are ventilated and non-ventilated and I am getting to see some of the post operative patients which all will stand me in good stead when I come to complete my respiratory competencies. It has been great to get stuck back into respiratory as I only had the one placement in my second year and everyday my confidence is building as the team I am working with is great!! We do a lot of doubles together, teaching sessions and in service training.

Now this all sounds all well and good but the last couple of weeks have been pretty stressful for me, a couple of weeks into my job at the QE I got an email through from a manager at Derby Hospitals. As you may know from previous posts I had been for an interview there but was unsuccessful (which I was disappointed with as I had done my best on the day). The email read along the lines of:

Dear Lucy

I hope you are well.

We have had some extra movement in the trust and I would like to offer you a permanent contract at Derby Hospitals…..

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At this point I read the email about 50 times before I made sense of it! Due to my interview being within 3 months they could recruit me straight away! Of course at this point I accepted but was wary that a permanent post was coming up at the QE so I was still hopeful to remain in trust so I attended the interview to give myself options.

I turned up at the QE interview consciously fine, I went in sat the written paper which asked questions on Chronic non-specific lower back pain and what the management would be? Prioritisation of a list of patients, a respiratory patient assessment, treatment with relation to the on call rota and another question which I can’t remember. I came back to sit down after the paper feeling relatively calm and waited to be seen for the individual interview…. I was being interviewed by the head of therapies and a band 7. I went in and the first few questions were absolutely fine and then it hit me….. My nerves suddenly took over me and I couldn’t physically speak the further questions weren’t particularly ambiguous and if you had asked me later that day I could have gone on for hours but instead I felt like I was outside my body looking in and couldn’t do anything to help myself…. So unfortunately I can’t recall any of the questions from that interview and you can guess I didn’t get the permanent contract…. however they were very understanding of how much the job meant to me on the day and did extend my contract if I wanted.

Now for most people this would be a simple decision to take the permanent contract, but for me not so much. I really had to sit down and right the pros and cons of each hospital and location which did keep me awake most of the night. In the end I chose the permanent contract although I have settled into the QE and I love the hospital I had to be selfish in thinking about my further development…. so I opted for continuity. So as you can imagine I am ecstatic!!! I am now a proud owner of a permanent band 5 contract and all the events and opportunities that have lead to this day have sometimes been hard but totally worth it in the end. I just wanted to say that if you are newly qualified physiotherapist looking for an NHS job don’t give up! I have had several interviews which have been unsuccessful but you can’t take it personally and you have to move on to the next one. Eventually something will come your way and it will be the reason you didn’t get the previous jobs you applied for, because everything happens for a reason.

So since I have now got a permanent band 5 post as promised I wanted to give students and new grads tips on how to write their supporting information. So firstly here are my top 10 tips for writing an application and attending an interview:

1. Read the PERSON SPECIFICATION….. this is the point all managers come back to that applicants haven’t done what they have asked. Sometimes there will be hidden questions to how they want you to approach the application. Basically don’t give them a reason to turn you away, use buzz words that are included in the person spec.

2. Make it personal to the trust, show them how you meet their vision and values if you don’t do this you might as well not even submit your application.

3. Demonstrate your transferable skills. If you have been involved in other activities outside of physiotherapy… what skills have you developed and how can you transfer them into practice.

4. Include your HCPC number and CSP membership number at the top. This means the recruiters don’t have to look through your application when it is staring them in the face.

5.Make sure you review the NHS jobs website daily. The website sends emails of new jobs at the end of the day not when a job goes out.

6. Get your application in early some NHS jobs can close within a couple of hours like the QE. Have a basic template for your application ready so you are ready to go when the job goes live.

7. Don’t make it any longer than 2 pages A4 treat it as a CV otherwise the recruiters will get bored if you are not keeping everything concise.

8.Attend interviews that you don’t want, you might change your mind when you get there and have a look around (and lets face it we can’t be fussy). Try and book an informal visit before the interview as this is something you can talk about during the face to face interview if you have one.

9. Prepare but don’t over prepare. Try and practice questions by answering them out loud as this is how you will be responding in the interview. But try to relax at the end of the day it is not the end of the world if you don’t get the job, nobody died and it is their loss.

10. Finally take in your CPD folder and make it relevant to the post you are applying for, that way they know you are dedicated to that specific post.

I can’t give you any real tips for interviews as they are all different but it is a skill you do develop…. so if you have a shocking one don’t beat yourself up about it. Below I have posted one of my applications with the name of the trust removed, I hope some of you may find it useful.

Physiotherapy BSc: Class 1 (Hons)

HCPC Registered: PH101564

Full member: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Full driving license.

As a very enthusiastic, driven, and dedicated person I believe I would provide a valuable contribution to the teams within X Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I believe X Hospital would facilitate me to achieve excellence, whilst allowing me to gain a firm grounding for a successful career in physiotherapy.

I wish to emulate the trusts vision of “……”. I believe I am a very personable, polite and enjoy taking the time to take a holistic approach with my patients. I feel the best outcomes are achieved when patients feel empowered and listened to. On clinical placement one of my patients lacked confidence and I felt by taking the time to understand their goals, this aided my treatment and their outcome. Conversely, I had a situation where I had to break bad news to a patient. The gentleman was likely to remain wheelchair bound due to him demonstrating no improvement over several months. Although I was presented with the harsh reality of stroke, the process was made easier due to the patient and family trusting me as I always aimed to answer any of their concerns and provide information when they required.

Through clinical placements I have been fortunate to gain experience in Intermediate Care, Acute Stroke, MSK x 2 and Orthopaedic Outpatients, Intensive Care at a major trauma centre and Elderly Rehabilitation. During this process I have been able to demonstrate my strengths in communication, time management and ownership of my own caseload, whilst also ensuring I am providing patient-centred care. This has been evidenced by feedback from my clinical educators in my CPD portfolio.

On my last two placements I demonstrated safe, effective and autonomous caseload management in an inpatient and outpatient setting. In both cases I was responsible for discharge planning and referral to appropriate services following MDT meetings or by written communication. I have been able to successfully demonstrate this through positive feedback received from educators, patients and from the wider MDT.

Clinical placement has allowed me to develop my problem solving skills. This can be demonstrated from my experience on intensive care. Coordination of care is essential in all settings; however, in intensive care it is vital due to patients being prone to fatigue. To ensure the MDT were working in a coordinated way I helped to implement the idea of writing a treatment timetable.  The timetable allowed for patients to feel empowered by them deciding when they wanted to be seen and it allowed staff to work together efficiently.

Data protection and patient confidentiality is a requirement for any practicing physiotherapist. I have demonstrated my awareness of this in my portfolio following completion of information governance modules: Patient Confidentiality, secure handling of confidential information and Records management and the NHS codes of practice.

At University I have maintained my manual handling training which I have applied to a practice setting. An example of this was when a patient had slipped out of her chair. To resolve this I autonomously worked with a physiotherapy assistant and used a slide sheet to ensure safety and dignity was maintained by the patient.

With the new changes being implemented in the NHS, it is important for physiotherapy services to provide evidence of positive outcomes. In light of recent failings in the NHS, it is essential for a practicing physiotherapist to adopt clinical governance to ensure patient safety remains the priority. Furthermore, I understand I have a personal responsibility to provide a clinically effective service by basing my practice on evidence and working within my scope of practice. As part of my elderly rehabilitation placement, I conducted a documentation audit using the quality assurance tool and presented this to staff. The audit highlighted shortcomings in record keeping which needed to be addressed, as it had the potential to impact patient outcomes. If I was to gain this post, X NHSFT would gain a physiotherapist dedicated to the profession who is flexible, proactive and who takes a positive approach to managing change and challenges.

Alongside clinical experience, I have been an active member of the CSP. For the last 4 years, I have been a student representative and I have served as Midlands Regional Coordinator for the Student Executive Committee (SEC) from 2011-2013. This role required the ability to organise and coordinate meetings between student reps at Coventry, Keele, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. The meetings discussed relevant physiotherapy issues within the student population and ensured student input was applied to the wider society. Through this role, I have had the opportunity to present at conferences, contribute to policy, sit on the West Midlands Regional network and set up an Unemployed Graduate Scheme. The scheme was set up by myself to provide free evening CPD lectures for new graduates who were in the transition between graduation and employment. These opportunities have allowed me to develop my leadership, communication, organisational and presentation skills. My contributions to the society have been recognised this year as I was nominated and received highly commended CSP student representative of the year 2013.

I am an active learner and seek out any opportunities to further enhance my professional development. An example of this was applying to work with the University Rugby League team as their pitch side support .To enable me to take on this position I had to complete a pitch side first aid course and show further evidence of CPD activities related to the post. During this role I have had to work alone in high pressure situations which have enhanced my lateral thinking skills. I have had to negotiate with players and coaches on a regular basis to ensure players who were unfit to play remained on the side line. This role has highlighted my diplomacy skills to achieve ‘win win’ situation.

Outside of physiotherapy I have a passion for horse riding, which has continued through University. For the last 2 years I have been elected as 1st Team Captain, for the University Equestrian Club, and I have represented the University at British University and College Sport over the past 4 years. This role has enhanced my leadership and teamwork skills and has demonstrated my dedication to activities I am involved in as we were crowned national champions in 2013.

I enjoy being challenged in my work and I believe that physiotherapy should remain a seven day service for the benefit of the patients. Recent news discussing how patients who have elective surgery on a Friday are more likely to have complications highlights this. I would be willing to be flexible in my work as I believe my time management skills have ensured I can create a work life balance, evidenced by my commitment to my hobbies.

As a newly qualified graduate, I am aware of my scope of practice; which includes recognising personal weaknesses and critically appraising my performance and learning. I welcome the opportunity to discuss cases with colleagues, to share best practice and further develop my clinical reasoning skills. I am excited about the new learning opportunities X NHS trust would bring.

Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you.

And that is really it I hope to keep you all updated with my progress as a new band 5 at Derby. Thank you to everyone who follows the blog, the support has been great and has really kept me going when times have been tough.

Feel free to leave me a comment or tweet me @LCphysio

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Putting things in perspective!

This week I started my new job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and I survived!! My first rotation is on critical care… which for most new band 5’s, who have never done a placement on ITU I am sure would be petrifying! Especially since the QE has the biggest co-located ITU in the world holding 100 beds! …. Luckily for me it is the area I did on placement so it is not all new! (Though jogging my mind on respiratory has been quite as a task, as I last did respiratory placement in my second year). But I am happy as I know quite a few friendly faces which has been reassuring.

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So not only have a started a new job this week I have also moved into a new house, which means I can walk to work! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing both at the same time as it has been quite stressful getting everything organised, but everything seems to be back on track now 🙂 . On my first day I went to meet my line manager for an initial induction, I remember walking down to road with butterflies in my stomach and clammy hands wondering what the day would bring! I was given so much information in the morning regarding booking onto mandatory training and different contacts I needed… my brain had turned to mush and I had dates in my diary I couldn’t even relate to any more. But I figured it’s not worth worrying about as everything will get sorted in the end (I just hope I progress to a permanent contract after doing all of these training sessions!!)

Mid morning I got to go up onto the Unit. It didn’t feel too scary as I had been up there before so all the noises of monitors beeping and staff bustling seemed quite normal to me. I am currently on the rehab team on ITU which means I get to work across all the areas of intensive care which are Renal, Trauma, Neuro and Cardiac I think…. So as a new band 5 it is great opportunity to see all the weird and wonderful things! My team consists of two band 6’s and one band 8 so I am in a great environment to learn. We are currently involved in a research trial looking at early mobilisation in ventilated patients to see if this decreases patient length of stay in hospital. It is a very rewarding first rotation but I am due to rotate again in November  😦 (as I started mid way through), so I plan to write some objectives in line with the preceptorship scheme to achieve before I finish. At the QE we have an in service every Wednesday… so it will be a good opportunity to share my learning experiences each week as I won’t be able to share patients stories for confidentiality’s sake. 

From just doing my first week on ITU, it really puts life in perspective. Although I have had a few things going in my personal life recently, compared to what some of the patients and families are going through it is nothing and it really makes you view things completely differently! 

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So back onto a positive note a permanent post has just become available at the QE so I have applied for that! I have had feedback from my last interview so fingers crossed it might lead to something else if I get an interview as there is a chance they might randomly select 🙂 (but now I have met the interview panel hopefully they won’t seem as scary :-S). 

Over the weekend I am at Physiotherapy UK so I am sure I will have a lot to talk about, I am really looking forward to catching up with friends and CSP student Reps! New grads can still go on a student rate and it is great 2 day conference of CPD. See the link below if you want more information:

http://www.physiotherapyuk.org.uk/

Thanks again for taking the time to read my post. Any questions or comments please feel free to contact me on here or tweet me @LCphysio .

Grab Opportunities With Both Hands!

I just wanted to start this post by saying a massive thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in my blog. So far, I have had over 4000 views which is amazing and totally appreciated.

So this week I went to the CSP West Midlands Regional Network Study day in Worcester (Keep looking on the CSP website for the presentations under West Midlands Regional Network). I am going to discuss what I took from the event. See a few pictures below.

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When I was a student I was the student representative on the West Midlands Regional Network, which I have now passed onto Daniel Jackson (3rd Year Keele who kindly provided the photos). The West Midlands is a very active network and I have continued to have some involvement since qualifying which will be easier now I am staying in Birmingham. At the moment my role on the network is part of communications team which involves engaging members (mainly new grads with what goes on). The network are very welcoming and always like to know what is going on in your work place, so any issues can be fed back to the CSP through our chair Janet Davies or Rep to Council Philip Hulse. The study day kicked off similarly to a normal network meeting, so work place reports were discussed and key points in the CSP council papers and key messages were highlighted (For more information and minutes please go the West Midlands Regional Network http://www.csp.org.uk/nations-regions/west-midlands. The network meetings are great to find out what is happening in the real world of physio (for students)  and it is great way to share good practice or discuss work place issues for (qualified). For me the network meetings are a great opportunity to network and to find out first hand what issues are facing our profession.

I have highlighted presentations in bold so you can pick and choose which sections you read as there is quite a lot to talk about.

Presentation 1-“Professionalism in Today’s Regulatory Climate” Sue England who is the CSP Treasurer and Council Representative (@SueEngland10)

I believe slides will be put on the CSP website. I am not going to discuss everything in the presentation but this is what stuck with me: Firstly discussion of what defines your Scope of practice. Sue suggested it was a good thing to actually write down your scope each year. So what are you trained and competent to carry out? This changes with experience so it is good to know what the limits of your practice are. For me personally by writing down my scope this will highlight areas I need to focus my CPD to aid my career progression.

Secondly was the fact that as a physiotherapist you are an autonomous practitioner, this means any clinical decision you make you must be able to justify whether during assessment, clinical reasoning, treatment plan or record you are involved in. The first line of defense you have if you are pulled up by the HCPC are your notes, this mean they must be accurate, comprehensive and comprehensible ! As a full CSP member you have comprehensive public liability insurance (if you are working within your scope of practice). CSP membership is a bit like RAC/AA cover you don’t want to have to use it but that time you do the costs that would be covered would be equal to a lifetime cover so personally I think it is a small price to pay (fingers crossed I never have to face this!!)

Finally I found a good link to read  is :  http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130402150350/http://ahp.dh.gov.uk/2012/02/27/voicepiece-karen-middleton-chief-health-professions-officer/ . Karen Middleton, Chief Health Professions Offcier, wants AHP’s  to be transparent following recent findings from the Francis report (although most of the findings were centred around nurses, physios need to ensure we don’t miss out on funding for leadership programs or CPD opportunities) . As physio’s we generally are not very good at challenging each others practice, so Karen’s aim is to encourage AHPs to talk about the issue of professional behaviour in a more open and constructive way, which I believe was the main message behind Sue’s presentation.

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2nd Presentation: A Personal Experience of Completing the HCPC CPD Audit- Jane Toms- Communication Lead WMRN and lecturer Coventry University.

I think one of the scariest things to think about as a qualified physiotherapist is being called up by the HCPC for CPD Audit. Each year the HCPC select 2.5 % of the profession to have their portfolio reviewed. Now lets face it physiotherapists are very good at doing CPD, however, if someone was to come and raid you’re house one evening, would it be in an organised manner? If you’re like me I have 3 folders which store everything but I wouldn’t necessarily think it was appropriate to hand into the HCPC. Jane Tom’s presentation gave a great insight into the process and revealed some relieving points.

How she completed it:

  1. Read carefully what was required: Guides,videos and examples from HCPC.
  2. Look at online resources from CSP, HCPC.
  3. Read carefully what is required again
  4. Look at the assessment criteria!!!
  5. Look at portfolio and select most appropriate CPD
  6. Keep cycling through 1-5.

Jane brought in a copy of her submission and it was quite a relief to see a very thin A4 folder!!!  So what was needed in the submission.

  • 500 words about current roles and responsibilities
  • 1500 Words on how she addressed standards 1-4 with evidence to support it.
  • Standard 5 submit it!! You do not need to use all 2000 words!

So a lot less work than you thought? However, do you write the dates of any CPD activities you do?

Standard 1: Maintain a continuous up to date, accurate record of CPD: Basically write a timetable for the last 2 years of things you have done and the nature of the activity, for example formal course, discussion, peer review.

Standard 2: Demonstrate that CPD activities are varied and relevant: so link to nature of the activities you have recorded and then link to why the activities are relevant to your current role (so link this to summary of role).

Standard 3: CPD has contributed to quality of practice and service delivery: Link evidence to a form of evaluation you can do this yourself or by external feedback you may have documented. How has CPD helped your practice.

Standard 4: Seek to ensure CPD benefits the service user. Who are your service users? Basically it could be anyone you come in to contact with so patients, students, staff etc. Try to link to service user feedback eg. cards, emails, patient feedback etc… This is probably the most difficult standard.

So what would Jane do differently next time?

  • don’t feel guilty if portfolio is chaotic
  • endeavor to be less chaotic as this would save time e.g write down CPD in diary.
  • Ask people who give positive feedback to email her- emails provide dated evidence.
  • email colleagues appreciation
  • even more collecting of positive emails, cards and feedback.

Presentation should again be uploaded onto the WMRN page.

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Presentation 3 Achieving CPD Excellence- Sophie Wickens CSP Fieldwork Officer for CPD

So following the previous presentation I think the importance of CPD has been highlighted. CPD is an ongoing process. My CPD has very much focused on how my CPD activity has affected me but I haven’t integrated it into how it has affected my service users, I have said it will but I haven’t evidenced it. A way I could demonstrate my CPD in this way could be what I learnt from working with England Cricket, followed up by documenting an email from Steve McCaig who gave me positive feedback for the work I did and how the players and coaches responded to me.

What are the benefits of demonstrating excellence in your CPD?

  • encourages further learning.
  • HCPC requirement
  • Role model to others.
  • Job satisfaction
  • Become critical about own practice.
  • Make the case to employers of the benefits of attending courses. i.e. applying for funding.
  • a way of influencing commissioners.

What resources are available to you from the CSP?

  • Pebblepad/ eportfolio proformas
  • Frontline
  • ICSP- Case discussions
  • Twitter
  • Championing CPD Scheme
  • CSP Colleagues
  • CPD Champions- reflective cards
  • QA Audit Tool
  • Physiotherapy Framework
  • CPD Syd
  • Specialist physio through professional advice service.
  • Links to specialist library
  • Network meetings
  • Annual Reps Conference
  • Clinical interest groups
  • Physiotherapy UK
  • Physio Journal
  • CSP Briefing papers
  • Website.

So there are a few things to be going on with.

Presentation 4 Top Ten Things you didn’t know about NICE Naomi McVey.

I am mainly going to bullet point some of the things I learnt from this presentation as I don’t have the slides in front of me.

  1. Maybe its just me but did you know the codes on NICE guidelines symbolise the type of paper you are looking at, for example CG- Clinical Guideline QS- Quality Standards PH- Public Health.
  2. The full NICE Guideline provides an in depth report of all the evidence and a summary whereas the web format provides recommendations. Naomi advised to go to the web format first and then follow up with the full guideline if you require more detail.
  3. NICE Quality Standards provide markers of high quality care from the best available evidence, so good to use when looking to implement a quality service.

CPD Opportunities and Resources available from NICE.

Presentation 5 Moving into the driving seat- how physiotherapy can benefit from this current climate Sue Browning CSP Dep Chief Exec.

Change in the NHS is here to stay as we cannot afford to keep doing what we are doing. There is increased competition to provide services, there is a shift to primary and integrated care to promote self-management and there is an increasing demand for quality to be monitored.

Change does bring opportunity: Commissioners are looking for more efficient and better ways of working and there is strong evidence that physio is the answer to many of the major current changes. However, we cannot assume that people know the key role of physio in preventing unnecessary admissions, providing alternative pathways and keeping people independent. Therefore it is our job to go out and take control of this agenda. Everyone has a role we need to understand and look to improve our role, sell ourselves, look for opportunities round local joint strategic needs assessments (JSNA), build support with patient groups (they will be your allies), learn from others and look to the CSP website. Tell the CSP what you need to do this? As a profession we are a team and need to work together.

Finally moving into the driving seat.

  • Physiotherapy has a strong future.
  • We all have a role in creating that future from student to qualified member.
  • Services will change.
  • Seize opportunities
  • Network, network, network and access the support.
  • Regional Networks have important roles.

So as you can see I have taken a lot from one study day I hope you may find some of it useful.

Finally what is happening with me, I recently went to help out at an extra session with West Brom using Functional movement screening to assess players. This worked in my favor as I am now going to be doing some paid work for West Brom, as one of the physios was unable to cover a day so I stepped in (It shows sometimes grasping any hint of opportunity can lead to others). I will do a follow up post for all of this as I feel I have I overloaded this post with information.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my post. Again any comments please leave on the page or tweet me @LCphsyio

Every Contact Counts!

So since my boyfriend is being boring playing Fifa, I now find myself writing another blog post. So since finishing University I have felt a bit lost in translation but, at the same time have relished the fact I can take any opportunity that comes my way. A bit of a downer on the NHS job front all of the applications I submitted got rejected 😦 !! However, I did ask for feedback and the only comments I received were I didn’t have HCPC registration (which I now have finally so no stopping me).

I had received some information regarding some bank work at Walsall Manor hospital which was positive. However, again being back at home I am limited by my current location in Chesterfield and have no funds to rent anywhere.

A little side story: when I was sorting out my application for bank work I was in bed when I had an emailed pinged from NHS jobs saying that Walsall Manor Hospital had a permanent band 5 post (I have only just realised that NHS jobs email you at the end of the day rather than the morning for any new jobs). So lying in bed I thought oh its fine it has only just gone up so I can apply in the morning…. Rookie error by 11 am the  job had gone gahhh!! At this point I had put in quite a few applications so I was getting a bit impatient, so being the keen bean I am I rang the line manager to check it was due to the number of applications (which it is was). However, the manager was really nice and said if I have my HCPC I could be put through to interview from being on the bank. Unfortunately at this point I didn’t have it and had to face another turned down application. But it does show if you are really interested in a post which you have missed it is worth calling the manager after to  discuss whether it was due to the number of applications.

So on a brighter note being an unemployed graduate has worked in my favor. Gerard Greene who I work for doing CPD course admin at Harborne Physio had spotted a job opportunity through one of the clinics he follows on twitter. He suggested it to me which I grasped with both hands.The job is at Worcester Warriors acting as physio for the junior and senior camps over the summer. To get the post I had a skype interview with the clinical director and one of the clinical specialists at the Markland Clinic.  I was a bit rushed for my interview, (which for people who know me is not like me, as I had stayed at my boyfriends in Sheffield so I felt a bit flustered for the interview). Tip 1: arrive to your interview with plenty of time and prepare for your interview!! The sort of questions I got asked were:

What do you know about the Markland clinic?

Talk us through how you dealt with a sporting injury?

Tell us about your strengths + weaknesses?

How would you deal with a player who’s family lived away from the camp who needed to go to hospital?

How would you deal with a difficult player?

What approach would you take with the parents, coaches and players?

And some more which I can’t remember…

Once the interview got started I felt a lot more comfortable and it went fairly well which resulted in me getting the job!! I am so excited for the opportunity and I will update you with how it goes. I am sure I will have a few stories with me being the only physiotherapist on site.

Another contact who was very helpful was my course mate Ciara Horne (http://www.ciarahorne.com/) who is a track rider for Welsh cycling. Ciara also rides on the roads for the Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team who were short of a Soigneur (sports massage therapist ) for the Krasna Lipa Tour de Feminin in the Czech Republic. So when Ciara asked me I jumped at the chance to go as you never know what other opportunities may come of it. So I spoke to the manager booked my train tickets to London to set off for a very long drive to the Czech Republic. So a brief introduction to life as a Soigneur can be found below.

Day 1:I caught the train down to London to meet Rene Groot the manager and Colin Baldwin the other Soigneur. To start our journey we took the Euro tunnel and headed through France, Belgium, Holland (unintentionally) and Germany where we stayed the night before travelling further to the Czech Republic. We had set off from London about 1.30pm  and arrived in Germany about 1.30 am so a fair trip (this included food, toilet and pick up stops).

Day 2: We had to travel over to Dresden in Germany to pick up the team as some of the riders are based in Belgium where Scottish cycling lease a house and some of the others who had flown over to meet us. So in total we had 7 riders, 1 mechanic, 2 soigneurs and the manager.  From Dresden we headed for Krasna Lipa, Czech Republic to register the riders for the race. After registering we headed to the accommodation, which was an old school, luckily we were one of the lucky teams who had a communal area which meant we could set up the massage tables (shame we were on the 2nd floor as there was a lot of unpacking).

Day 3,4, the riders had a stage race and had pre and post massages for the event. The girls on the team were lovely and I learnt the job of Soigneur from the best, as Colin had previously worked with the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Sarah Storey. As this race was my first cycling race I had been to watch, a lot of it was all new to me, for example, during stage races riders were given more drinking bottles at feeding stations (which me  and Colin found difficult to find sometimes) but I learnt very quickly and all the girls managed to take fluid and mix from us at the stations. I can’t tell you the adrenaline rush of a group of cyclists speeding past you and you hoping you don’t drop their bottle during the race. So apart from sports massages and feeding, Soigneurs were also responsible for pretty much any other task the riders needed for example we did the supermarket shop, carried bags, first aid and a shoulder to cry on if any one needed it. It was fair to say both me and Colin fancied a glass of red at the end of the night.

Day 5 Was the time trial (TT) race in the morning and another stage race in the afternoon. I must admit I never knew how complicated bikes could be in terms of types, height, different saddle, mechanics  etc…. I thought horses were complicated.

Day 6 Was the final stage race in the morning before packing up for a long journey back to London. We set off at 3.30pm and I finally arrived back home about 3.30pm the next day, I suppose the only negative of going to these events but luckily I managed to get some good sleep through the 6 countries we traveled through. I think if you want to start working in sport you have to know how to fall asleep anywhere quickly.

See some pictures below of the trip!!

So that is me all up to date, I graduated last Wednesday which was a lovely day with all the physios and I am now just waiting on 4 NHS job applications to see where I go from there.

IMG_0513 IMG_0520 IMG_0537 IMG_0556 IMG_0562 IMG_0572IMGP5966 P1010738 P1010810

https://www.facebook.com/BreastCancerCareCyclingTeam

https://twitter.com/BCC_CT

http://www.marklandclinic.com/

http://www.warriors.co.uk/home.php