A fresh and exciting start

Physiotherapy students and newly qualified members have gained unique skills and experiences to build upon, says Karen Middleton

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

Even in my late 50s, I still associate September with fresh starts, renewed focus…and a new pencil case! For physiotherapy students commencing their first year, I know September can bring a mixture of eager anticipation and nerves, both of which are appropriate as you embark on this next stage of your life. 

You have made a fantastic choice of profession and career and you will also experience some fantastic highs, even as a student, as you see what a difference you make to people’s lives. And there will be a lot of support, not least from the CSP, as you make the journey to full qualification.

September is also often the time, following a well-deserved break over the summer, when newly qualified physios start their employment – and I recall this being more nerve-wracking than when I started my training. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration feels a heavy weight to bear, but it’s the same registration that says, ‘you’re ready’. 

This cohort of newly qualified physiotherapists has probably had the toughest pre-registration experience of any students since the War, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. You will have seen, in the pages of Frontline and elsewhere, what the pandemic has meant for student learning, for clinical placements and for those students who gained temporary HCPC registration – the pressure has been huge and the impact is probably still being felt.

But the way students, supported by their universities, responded has also been remarkable and this will stand them in good stead in their careers. There is a tendency to focus on what students may have missed out on, but there are also skills they have gained which mean they are uniquely placed to thrive in one of the most difficult healthcare contexts for a generation.

These physiotherapists are agile and adaptable. They’ve had to apply their skills in novel and unique ways and in very difficult circumstances. They’ve seen people during their most desperate moments, supported families with care and compassion, taken the initiative and lead earlier than most of us and they are proficient in technology and how it can enhance our interventions.

If you are one of these physiotherapists, be confident in the difference you can make, using the experience you have gained.

If you are welcoming one of these physiotherapists into your team, service or organisation, focus on what they offer, given it is likely to be different from what those of us who trained in more ‘normal’ times could contribute. 

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