As a physio who leads the CSP’s Professional Advice Service, Pip White thought she had heard it all. Then a member asked if it was okay to pole dance professionally. ‘Can I be a professional pole dancer?’
What is the PAS?
The PAS or Professional Advice Service is part of the enquiry management services offered to CSP members. Any enquires that are complex or highly specialised are forwarded to the PAS to be answered by a professional adviser who is a registered physiotherapist. At present, around 15 advisers are in a rota for answering PAS enquiries, in addition to their day-to-day CSP roles.
PAS manages professional, practice-based enquiries. Stewards and officers from the employment and union services part of the CSP deal with employment or workplace advice and we will work with them if needed. PAS is predominantly an email-based service. This is because it’s important we understand clearly what a member needs help with so we can give the right advice. Also, like all physiotherapists, we are required to keep records of our advice. There are times when a member may need to speak with us, and the enquiries team can put a call through from 9 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
How many queries can you deal with on a shift?
It depends on the number of written enquiries and whether we have phone calls as well. We deal with about 150 complex written enquires a month overall. The amount of enquiries coming to PAS has increased by more than seven-fold since the service was established nine years ago, so we like to think we are providing a useful service to members.
What kinds of queries have you had?
No day is the same. We get a lot of enquiries around scope of practice. We help members to consider the context of how they are working to help us decide whether what they are doing is physiotherapy. We are asked about acceptable social media behaviour from both patients and physios. And, of course, at least once a year we get asked if it’s okay to audition for X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, or to be in an ‘artfully arranged’ nude calendar for charity. Or pole dancing …
Have you ever been flummoxed?
No. Members do encounter distressing, disturbing and highly emotional professional situations. We are able to reassure and support them as we have generally come across the issue before. I love being asked a question that I haven’t heard before. It happens about once a year and I tend to get excited as it means a new challenge.
Can you get peer support?
Absolutely – you couldn’t do this job without it. Most enquiries are very straightforward. There is, however, always another colleague around with whom we can discuss a member’s enquiry, or if we want to check something before giving advice. We have monthly adviser meetings and also weekly shared learning sessions. These give us opportunities to reflect on and develop what we do.
Do all health unions/professional bodies have such a service?
I believe the CSP was the first to set up a dedicated PAS for its members, and I’m very proud to have been part of that initial project. Some other organisations, such as those representing nurses, offer member advisory services.
Is it just about you giving information, or do you learn something too?
Where members need simply to access information, they can usually find it on the CSP webpages if they look there first. Members are seeking professional advice so we have to exercise our professional judgment to help. Working in PAS is a unique way of understanding what physiotherapists are doing around the UK in different contexts. It’s a great way to really understand the living profession. I learn something every day from members, and I like to think they learn something from us at the PAS. fl
To contact the CSP enquiries team, tel: 020 7306 6666 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Number of subscribers: 1