Born to lead: physiotherapy students have much to offer the profession

Today’s physiotherapy students have much to offer the profession in terms of leadership, says Luke Tobin.

Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of working with physiotherapy students from all over the UK. From #CSPempowers to the Annual Representative Conference (ARC), I’ve been continually impressed with the innovative ideas brought to the table and the leadership displayed by student members of the CSP. 
 
When I was elected as chair of the student executive committee (SEC), I made my take on leadership clear – it comes from the ground up. What have student members done over the past year? Well, they have made my job easy! I can say with confidence that there are some strong leaders taking their first steps into the profession. That’s the thing about physio students; we’re part of the profession from the day we step over the university threshold, which means students aren’t really the future of the profession – we’re part of the here and now. 
 
Take this year’s ARC, where four motions proposed by student members were accepted on to the agenda. These motions dealt with furthering engagement and celebrating the diversity of the profession. All four prompted great engagement at conference with conversations continuing on social media long after the vote. 
 
While there won’t be a reserved student seat on the council committees or on council, this leaves students with a different opportunity. There is no longer a limit to the number of students on council or the three council committees to lead the profession.
 
Furthermore, students can now be elected on the basis that they have the qualities to stand alongside the best in the profession as leaders. That’s the thing with a leadership model; all members have the prospect of expanding their sphere of influence to a national level, serving all members. Let’s not forget that physiotherapy students come from hugely diverse backgrounds. 
 
Elite athletes, ex-military, former teachers, the list goes on. Leadership doesn’t always come from experience or age and that perception is certainly being broken by today’s physiotherapy students. 
 
This year’s SEC had an exciting opportunity – to co-produce a new membership structure for students. Using the recent governance changes, student members were consulted on creating a more local way of engaging with the CSP. 
 
The CSP will now be formally supporting and developing physiotherapy societies. That’s right, the CSP will be more present within university campuses, allowing much greater access for all students to CPD offered by the CSP and its professional networks.
 
Overall, I’ve been inspired by the qualities I’ve seen in students this year. 
 
I’m soon to embark on my journey into professional employment, I’m encouraged by the fact that my future colleagues are already transforming and influencing the profession as student leaders.
 
  • Luke Tobin is chair of the CSP’s student executive committee
 
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Luke Tobin chair of the CSP’s student executive committee

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