First rung on the ladder: job advice for physio students and new graduates

Looking for your first physio job? The CSP is here to help, as Gill Hitchcock reports.

Are you about to graduate and seek your first  physio appointment? Your studies, placements and qualifications provide you with a well-earned calling card. But did you know that CSP membership is a big help too?  In addition to chartered status, the vital professional and public liability insurance, and membership of a trade union, the CSP offers benefits which – although less obvious – can make all the difference to securing that initial job. 

Survival guide in obtaining your first physiotherapy post

The CSP survival guide is a ‘one-stop shop’ to help you rise to the challenge of getting your first physio post. It covers topics ranging from where to look for jobs, how to stand out at an interview and opportunities overseas. 
‘Band five physiotherapy job prospects are extremely good at the moment,’ says CSP student officer Jamie Carson. ‘But there’s no doubt that obtaining your first post can be stressful as well as exciting for some people.
‘The new survival guide, targeted at final year students and recent graduates, will certainly give you lots of tips and advice to help you secure the perfect job.’

A guide to your first employment contract

This guide to avoiding the minefield of employment contracts is not to be missed. ‘Don’t make any assumptions – for example, that you will automatically get an annual pay rise,’ says Kate Moran, the CSP’s head of employment research. 
‘New graduates are increasingly employed in different sectors, so this guide provides a useful comparison with the NHS terms and conditions. Anyone applying for a job outside the NHS – or even with an NHS employer that has broken away from the national agreement – can see how the contract they’re being offered compares.’

Job Escalator

The CSP’s Job Escalator web resource lets the jobs find you by emailing you when matching jobs are added to the site. And you can search for employers and receive alerts when they advertise posts which may suit you.
Lucy Cocker qualified in 2013 and is now a rotational band five physio at Derby Teaching Hospital. She says: ‘I used it when I was searching for my first job, in addition to NHS Jobs. It was another useful source.’

CPD resources for students

This is a launch pad for resources – the ePortfolio, Frontline magazine, Physiotherapy journal, library service and events – which will help with your continuing professional development. 
Since he graduated in 2014 Rhys Hughes has been working with Sheffield United’s budding players as the academy physio. He found this resource very helpful ‘particularly when I was going into professional sport, in making sure I got all my professional competencies and CPD right.’
Likewise Alix Walker, a third year student at Cardiff University and the CSP’s Welsh Board student representative, is positive about the resource. She says: ‘I am well aware that at Cardiff there’s a massive push for CPD in our course and at the end of the year we have to present a CPD portfolio in order to pass our degree.’ 


There are a growing number of tools in the ePortfolio designed to support your CPD. 
Ms Cocker again: ‘There are a lot of resources about setting up your eportfolio and how to make it work for you. I used the ePortfolio site when I was a student and I think the templates are particularly useful.’

Library services

In addition to the physical CSP library, members have free of charge access to the society’s virtual catalogue and subscription publications. This year the CSP library launched the Physiotherapy evidence and knowledge discovery search service, the library’s equivalent of Google. It offers a powerful, tailored search of the library’s bibliographic databases, journal collections, ebooks and the CSP library catalogue.
Cardiff student Ms Walker says: ‘We have a very extensive library at the university, but I actually find that the library service at the CSP is really beneficial.’ 
And Ms Cocker comments: ‘When I was a student, if there was a book which was unavailable at the university, it was normally available through the CSP library service. In fact, I ordered several publications and the staff at the CSP were really good.’

Keeping up with NHS and physio news

All physios searching for their first job should be looking at the CSP’s news pages and Frontline magazine, available in print and online. ‘The fact is that if you go for an interview,’ says Sheffield United’s Mr Hughes, ‘you need to know as much as possible about the trust or area you might be working.’
‘The website has loads and loads of information about different sectors, different areas and things that are happening in the profession.’ 
Most students read information on the CSP website before an interview, according to Ms Walker. 
‘We use it for resources in terms of new government policies, so that we can bring them up at interview and be seen to have an understanding of the wider NHS as well as the local trust.’
She says job interviews usually include at least one question about the CSP. ‘A lot of students make a point of knowing quite a lot about the CSP and its local involvement.’
And Ms Cocker points out: ‘We need to have an awareness of what’s going on in the bigger picture around where we’re working; for example the NHS reforms that were happening when I first qualified. So the CSP website was useful for keeping an eye on what was going on, without having to find all the information myself.’ 
So, good luck with your career: and remember, you are only at the start of your relationship with the CSP. Let’s hope you find it a long and meaningful one. fl
Gill Hitchcock

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