In Perspective - Lateral thinking

Being a ‘back to work’ physio mum didn’t  go quite as planned for Kate Bye, though there’s been a glimmer of hope recently.

Though I never expected it, becoming a mum has opened my eyes to the variety of opportunities a physiotherapy career can offer.  

When I graduated in 1999 jobs were plentiful and a career path in the NHS was clear with exciting opportunities within physiotherapy.

I felt sure I would achieve my goal of being a (then) senior I before starting a family and returning to work part-time with an eye on school hours and term time working.

But the NHS has vastly changed. Cutbacks have meant that recruitment and retention problems are in the past, unemployment and redundancies in the present.

When I had my daughter in 2008 I was still a band 6 rotational musculoskeletal physiotherapist and promotion opportunities were minimal.

After returning to work I started to question what I wanted from my career and if it was still possible in the NHS.

I love being a physio but while my daughter was young I made a difficult decision and took a career break.

My daughter is now in pre-school and I’m keen to re-start my career with an aim of fulfilling my potential in it while having a happy family life.

But the economy has worsened. Finding work within the NHS, the private sector or in sports physiotherapy is not easy.

The obvious option for me was to rent a room or form a partnership but I felt I couldn’t dedicate the time required. So I’ve started thinking about other routes.

My first hope is that I might be able to write magazine articles for the general public or deliver presentations, say, for a local sports club.

As I enjoy presenting and teaching I have also thought of investigating being a guest lecturer for a local university which, though unpaid, may lead to a future career path.

I could also further my own training to open doors within alternative areas of physiotherapy, such as animal physiotherapy or medico-legal work.

But I don’t want to stop doing clinical work.

Being unable to find regular private work and not wanting my own clinic, I’ve thought about mobile physiotherapy.

I have also considered training as a pilates instructor and by using my physio knowledge specialising in particular client groups.

Finally I have wondered if I could I come up with a good business idea. Other physios have had great success with non-clinical businesses so maybe I could too!

But I have recently discovered that patience helps.

After all the difficulties, I recently started part- time work with a private practice I had been in contact with earlier and I’m loving being back in regular practice!

But I’m still discovering lots of exciting opportunities for me to return to my career beyond what I considered the ‘norm’ and still maintain a happy work-life balance.

I no longer feel lost as a physiotherapist and I hope that others - be they new mums, unemployed or the dissatisfied - don’t lose heart with our chosen profession.

Kate Bye lives in North Yorkshire

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