Physiotherapy students reflect on Allied Health Professionals Day and ‘AHPs into Action’
Published: 14 October 2021
Today, 14 October, is Allied Health Professions Day. Physiotherapy students, Ysi Henry and Amar Dhani, recently completed a placement working alongside the office for the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at NHS England and NHS Improvement. The pair helped develop the future strategy for Allied Health Professions (AHP) in England, entitled ‘AHPs into Action’, by capturing student opinion on the strategy and feeding this back to those writing it. Ysi and Amar reflect on the experience of contributing to the strategy as well as the importance of celebrating Allied Health Professions Day more generally.
Ysi begins, “AHPs into Action is a strategy which aims to support future healthcare and wellbeing service delivery for both patients and AHPs. It offers examples of innovative AHP practice and a framework for delivery in line with the NHS long-term plan.
“We had the challenge of sourcing student opinion on the strategy, both internally at St George’s and externally, in only 12 days (two days a week for a six-week period). We did this by sending out a lot of comms!
“Amar and I decided to divide and conquer – I prioritised students on the AHP courses offered at St George’s, and Amar explored external stakeholders by reaching out to other universities as well as posting on a variety of relevant social media platforms.”
“We feel we have finally begun to truly grasp how valuable each AHP profession is in its own right”
The leadership placement during which Amar and Ysi contributed towards ‘AHPs into Action’ was the first of its kind to be offered to Physiotherapy students at St George’s. Despite initial misgivings, the pair found the placement an enriching experience as Amar explains.
“Previously I had always been ward based when on placement and so had felt the stresses and excitement of a fast-paced environment. Placement had always been all the things that physiotherapy students dream about doing - patient interaction, being active and mobile during clinical time, a role with the opportunity to be hands on and get stuck in.
“The leadership placement wasn’t any of these things, but it has given us both a greater appreciation of the variety of skills and knowledge that physiotherapists can acquire and excel in. Learning new skills such as crowdsourcing, chairing meetings and experiencing the NHS service through an AHP lens has really helped me grasp what AHPs can contribute to patient care.
“The placement is an opportunity for students to learn about the ‘unseen side of Physiotherapy’. It has provided us with a new perspective, and exposed us to how versatile and autonomous physiotherapists are within healthcare. We have begun to truly grasp how valuable each AHP profession is in its own right as well as how we (as physiotherapy students) can acquire new skills from other AHPs to help us work towards greater patient care.”
A day to recognise, value and celebrate devoted and dedicated multidisciplinary teams
Ysi says, “I believe it is necessary to have an Allied Health Professions Day as I don’t think the media or health services always truly depict the importance of AHP professions. The placement at the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer has taught us both why each and every AHP should be celebrated. Allied Health Professionals Day is a way to do just that - recognise, value and celebrate devoted and dedicated multidisciplinary teams.
“The celebration of Allied Health Professionals Day can only strengthen the unity amongst all AHPs. It also helps raise awareness of the 14 AHP professional disciplines as well as the contributions that AHPs have made which have positively impacted healthcare reform.”
Ysi began studying undergraduate Physiotherapy at St George’s in 2019 while Amar began a Masters in the subject in 2020. Despite the interruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the two have enjoyed their time studying at St George’s.
Ysi continues, “Studying at St George’s hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however, I commend the University for being able to constantly adapt their teaching especially throughout the pandemic. They have always been so supportive and really do prioritise each and every student.
“St George’s has open and honest conversations promoting mental health and wellbeing, along with providing excellent resources, such as the university counselling services and mindfulness program.”
Amar adds, “I can only praise St George’s for their resilience and adaptability to optimise teaching during such a difficult time. I came to appreciate that Physiotherapy may not always be taught hands on, but that there are always opportunities that can help our professional development. I am grateful for the transparent and empathetic staff that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support students.”