Karen Middleton offers advice and encouragement for students at the start of their journey into physiotherapy
Writing this, I’m focusing on those students who have just joined the CSP and starting their training and, at the same time, I’m seeing photos of students graduating. If you’re just dipping a toe in the world of physiotherapy, be aware that your years of study will go fast. Ask any new graduate.
I trained a long time ago so most of my experiences may be irrelevant now, but I do spend a lot of time with students, lecturers and clinical educators.
Joining the CSP is a great start. You’re now part of the 58,000 members who work in physiotherapy and you have links to fellow students, clinical experts, and a wide network of future employers and colleagues all over the UK. You can access these through your university’s physio society, our professional and regional networks and the country boards, and through iCSP and the online chats. Our 140 staff can advise on a range of issues about employment rights, regulation, professional practice and research, and we can provide educational support and continuing professional development.
There will be other opportunities to engage with the CSP – getting involved in our campaigns, getting elected to one of the committees, to Council and joining the various short life working groups looking at specific issues – but all in good time. We’re here to support you throughout your career.
I think the most important thing to remember is that you are not just studying for any old degree. It is your passport into a profession and not simply a job. Of course there will be theory, research and evidence and the clinical placements, but never overlook the multiple opportunities to develop as a rounded professional.
You may have chosen this profession with a specific career objective but try and see every new subject and clinical placement as a way of broadening the possibilities and your opportunities in the future. The wider your knowledge and clinical experience, the more recruitable you are.
The patients and public we serve are whole people, not systems or parts of the body. Observe and listen to your patients. Really listen to what they are saying and not saying. They know their own situation best.
Lastly look after yourself. It’s important to pay attention to your own health and wellbeing otherwise you will be no good to anyone. Keep physically active, get sufficient rest and eat well.
Stay connected with friends and family and talk to someone if things get difficult.
It’s a tough degree but it’ll be worth it. This profession has enabled me to transform and save lives, travel the world, work at the highest levels of government and, of course, to become CEO of this brilliant organisation.
I look forward to meeting you and connecting with you at events and on social media.
- Contact Karen to discuss this or any other issues at firstname.lastname@example.org
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