Getting involved with a professional network

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Nicola Suckley, chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics (ACPOHE) network, explains how being part of a professional network has been of benefit to her and her career.

Personal and professional development

I joined ACPOHE after being encouraged and supported by senior colleagues that I’d worked with. They were advising me that it would be a really great way of developing professionally and they were right. It can be a somewhat daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be and once you get in there and see the opportunities then it’s worthwhile getting involved.

When I initially joined the ACPOHE committee, my role was to organise the conference and study day. It was a really interesting experience to put a programme together and work with the whole committee. I was responsible but everybody was helping and supporting me. 

As my roles have evolved, I naturally got more involved in projects and then I was asked if I would be interested in a vice chair position. I then stepped into the chair position, and this has been a great experience. It has been hard work at times but certainly something that’s been really positive – it’s allowed me to learn a lot more about the functioning of the CSP as well as ACPOHE as a professional network.

I’d really encourage CSP members to look into their professional network in their area of interest and see if there are opportunities to get more involved. It provides a great opportunity to develop both personally and professionally. You’ll become much more immersed in what’s happening within your special interest group, as well as being able to network both with other colleagues within the special interest group, as well as wider within the CSP. There are also opportunities to go and present externally and meet with other professional groups, so it really allows you to grow in that way and shape your career.

Since joining ACPOHE, I’ve received fantastic support from the committee themselves but also the wider membership, because you start to really network and get to know people. One of the biggest things for me has been the support from more experienced colleagues who had been on the committee previously – they’ve really encouraged my development and taking on new opportunities. From a personal perspective, it’s been fantastic for me in terms of developing myself professionally, developing my knowledge, and becoming much more immersed in the field of work and health. 

I’d really encourage everyone to look at the professional networks. If there is a specific area you’re interested in and want to develop more knowledge, it’s a great way of developing professionally and learning more about that specialism. 

You’ll learn about the most recent research that’s out there, and get involved in projects, but also it’s a great opportunity to gain support and mentoring.

Very often we hear people feel that they need more experience to get involved in a professional network, and it’s actually quite the opposite. 

The networks really give you that support and a leg-up into a special interest area.

CSP professional networks

There are more than 29 professional networks (PNs) recognised by the CSP. The focus of each PN is different and includes specific patient populations, for example, children and young people, adults of working age, or older people, medical specialties (neurology, respiratory and MSK among others), and a variety of techniques and specialisms, such as acupuncture and aquatic therapy. Visit the directory of PNs.

Top tips on getting involved with professional networks 

Take a look at our ‘We are the CSP’ hub to explore more benefits of belonging to the CSP

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