Starting out in strange times

Graduating during the pandemic has presented a set of unprecedented challenges, says Ellie Ramsay

Ellie Ramsay
Ellie Ramsay is a rotational physiotherapist at Somerset NHS Trust and works part-time for Ocean Physio Sports & Rehab

Six months ago, I graduated from the University of Birmingham. Before that point, the nature of our studies was unconventional to say the least.

As a cohort, we experienced reduced patient contact on placements, reduced face-to-face lessons, limited exposure to different disciplines and a greater focus on technology – particularly telemedicine and video calls.

Graduating at such a turbulent time had its fair share of challenges and, in the midst of a pandemic, I felt apprehensive to start working. 

Transparency has been fundamental. I’ve found being honest in identifying my insecurities and learning needs has enabled me to generate SMART goals and independently engage in appropriate CPD. Taking advantage of any free online resources and webinars has been essential: from Covid-19 respiratory therapy sessions with Rachael Moses to podcasts by Physio Edge, Physio Matters and Physio Explained. 

In my current roles, I am very fortunate to be collaborating with highly experienced teams. I am grateful to the Ocean staff for providing easy access to support, weekly check-ups and graded exposure to opportunities, from assisting with sports taping to shadowing premiership rugby games. 

Similarly, my trust has allocated me a mentor, provided band 5 training and re-started the preceptorship programme. All of which have ensured a comfortable integration into the workplace as a newly qualified physiotherapist.

Lastly, the help of close friends has been crucial. From sharing experiences, resources and interview prep to practising manual-therapy techniques, their guidance has been a lifeline. 

So, for those of you starting out this year: use help when it is offered; work with and learn from your peers, colleagues and mentors; and continue to look for ways to develop outside of work such as volunteering opportunities, because it all adds to your portfolio of knowledge and experience.

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