What year did you graduate?
What course did you study?
Physiotherapy BSc (Hons)
What is your current role?
My role is a senior paediatric Physiotherapist working in an NHS foundation trust. I work with infants, children, and young adults. I am split between musculoskeletal outpatient clinics; a complex needs neuro-disability community caseload and acute inpatient working.
How did you get into your current role?
After graduation I moved back to my hometown and got my first post-grad position as a junior Physio, where I rotated in the core areas to gain insight and competence in each. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my rotations and always saw myself going into a neuro speciality. However, I had really enjoyed my paediatric placements I had as a student and so didn’t want to cast aside those experiences.
I progressed to a senior role after one and a half years where I was eventually brought into the world of paediatrics properly. It was musculoskeletal outpatients predominantly, lone working at satellite clinics in GP surgeries and health centres while running exercise classes throughout the week. I also got the chance to help develop an MDT co-ordinated obesity pathway. I knew I had a passion for this area and loved it so much I did three back to back rotations.
I decided to take some time out of my career and do some travelling for a year feeling that I had my foot in the door. I knew even while I was out of the UK that paediatrics was where I really wanted to specialise.
When I returned, I immediately starting to look for vacancy ads in paeds specialised roles. I did some applications and started interview prep. Ironically I had just had a successful interview at a Children’s hospital in the midlands, but the very same day a colleague gave me a heads up about a new vacancy. I looked at the job spec and absolutely loved what I read. My gut told me what felt right and so I turned down the offer I’d already been given, interviewed and then started last August.
Can you describe a typical day?
My role is a split between two main sub-specialties, and so the days vary throughout the week. If I’m on a musculoskeletal day, then it will generally be outpatient clinic all day – treating growth related conditions, screening for underlying pathology, rehabilitating post-op orthopaedic patients, screening infants and analysing gait patterns.
If I’m on a neuro day, I will be in a hydrotherapy morning session, then off to home visits or school visits, involved in the various MDT clinics or developmental advice clinics and involved in exercise classes for either MSK or Neuro. It can be very hectic but I love it.
What do you enjoy about your role?
The biggest thing I enjoy is the variety I get. No two days are the same. It makes for great development opportunities and keeps me on my toes at all times. It’s something I thrive off!
What do you find challenging in your current role?
Quite often elements of each sub-specialty seep into the ‘wrong’ day – normally urgent things for example: a deteriorating complex needs child that a lot of co-ordination of care is needed, or in the midst of an MSK clinic a parent calls with concerns or a child is sent round from fracture clinic for a ‘one-stop-shop’ crutches and stairs assessment. Things like this can take up time, which I am of course happy to give, but it’s normally at the expense of another task. It comes with the job though and I knew it coming into the role so it sets a good challenge for me!
A large amount of communication, planning and organisation skills are required. A diary is a must. There are lots of meetings surrounding the care of children, which need preparation in advance for. I have to run timely clinics. Schools need to know when you are visiting so that children’s lessons are disrupted minimally. Families need to know when you plan to review their child so they can be present at school, as do keyworkers. Home visits need co-ordination and planning to work around my day.
I have a constant line of communication with my supervisors, colleagues and MDT members. I have to switch my communication style to suit a child, parent, consultant and child again.
What advice would you give to a current student at St George’s who is keen to get into a similar area of work as you?
Paediatric placements can be hard to come by. Not all of my peers got the opportunity to spend time in a paediatric therapy team when I was studying. I’d say if you know it’s your bag, then ask for the opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm – and if you don’t ask, you don’t always get with placements. As it is down to what availability departments have to support a student.
Talk to your personal mentor, ask for advice, it’s part of their role to prepare you as much as physically possible for your post grad career as well as your undergrad experience. Plus they’ve climbed the ladder already!
Also talk to your peers further along in their degree – ask them their experiences. Many students know qualified Physios themselves. Networking is a fantastic way to meet people, find out information and get opportunities!
Which aspects of your degree are relevant for your current role?
Physiotherapy is first and foremost an autonomous profession. Giving the practitioner the responsibility of their decisions and thought processes. In this way, the course’s content is designed to encourage you to problem solve and think about your clinical reasoning as to what information you need to know, what tests are going to help your diagnosis, how much you can push your patient and how you can work with them to help them. The practical examinations put you in that situation and get you to think on your feet.
Physiotherapy like all health care professions is an evidence-based profession. Working on research article critiquing for many of my assignments helped me to understand the criteria for what makes a reliable, good quality piece of evidence.
In general it was all relevant because it was all transferrable!
Do you have any advice or a message for current students at St George’s?
Question everything. Get into the habit of it – you’re embarking on a career where the cornerstone is being moulded constantly by the fast changing circumstances of health care. Find out about the opportunities you have post study, the course title is not the be all and end all. All St George’s courses give transferrable knowledge and skills to other pathways.
Have an outlet too! Something that you can do to de-stress. Medical/healthcare degrees are intense and require a lot of information to be taken in quickly and stored. St George’s offers a great range of societies where you can meet people and take part in your own interests and hobbies – or try something new!
Do you have any advice or a message for students considering studying at St George’s?
It’s not the biggest University in terms of student population – but that has HUGE advantages. It’s like a family, you get to know so many different people and the social side of life at George’s really is one to be reckoned with.
It also has the advantage of being a medical school attached to a living breathing NHS trust – so you are already in amongst it and used to the acute environment, which comes with great learning facilities.
St George’s is a University of London – which means you have the luxury of thinking bigger than on campus! You can take advantage of the shared resources, library and careers service!
Take advantage of being only several stops away from a world-renowned city – you’ll get FOMO just stepping off the tube!