Louise Edge is an assistant practitioner in weight management physiotherapy at Aintree Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
I joined the CSP when I became a physio assistant at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital in 2000. I joined to have the union representation after Agenda for Change came in, but also for support in developing my career. I felt and still do that the CSP work hard to promote the important and ever-changing role of therapy assistant, which raises the importance of the PTA/AP role in patient care.
What career aspirations did you have for when you left school? Did you know what you wanted to do?
I took a year out after completing my A-levels, deferring a university place to study English Literature as I wasn’t sure at that time where that would take me. I subsequently got a good job at a local medical centre working in health promotion and my keen eye for raising awareness of heath conditions, especially public health issues grew from there. Almost all study I have undertaken since (and there’s been a fair bit!) has all been healthcare related. However my passion for reading remains!
Has your career path been different to the way you expected it to go? What made it different?
While I’m not surprised I’ve remained in the NHS for so long I am surprised that I’m so settled in a static post. All my previous work has been rotational and I loved that aspect of working in different areas. However I feel so strongly about raising awareness of public health issues that I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I do have some regret in not taking the opportunity to study to become a qualified physio as Aintree are extremely supportive of staff taking on study. However as is the case with many people – having children and subsequent family life meant that was not possible at that time. I have no regrets, however. I love my job.
What have been your most enjoyable experiences in your career?
I have loved being a major part of the development of the physio arm in the weight management service. When I started in this area we were a small team of three, bringing us to the larger team we are today working more closely with other disciplines within weight management and being part of the three Weight Management services that Aintree Hospital now lead and provide the specialist staff for.
What have been your biggest surprises in your career so far?
The diversity and skills that PTA staff have but the lack of development opportunities. I have been very lucky having senior physios and managers who provide ‘off the cuff’ training and more formal in-service training. It is something I feel should be addressed as it surely will result in more committed staff and reduce high levels of staff turnover.
Do you have any funny stories to share with us?
Devising new and inventive exercises for our groups (especially those we do in the hydro pool) has always resulted in lots of laughter! Also when we took our walking group into a (very) small wooded area at the bottom of the hospital site and completely lost our bearings for a few minutes. Thankfully it all worked out fine.
What does the 21st anniversary of CSP associate membership mean to you?
It’s a bit of a milestone showing increased acceptance of the associate member role within physiotherapy. A long way from being referred to as a ‘helper’!
If you could give one message to your peers from what you have learnt in your career, what would it be?
Keep your ears open. Patients often disclose more to you than they do to doctors and nurses. And ask, ask, ask! Experienced physios can teach you so much. A little extra understanding of a condition and treatment can only enhance the way you approach and treat a patient. That extra empathy and understanding will go a long way.
- Read more stories from the Associates 21st anniversary celebration