Why belonging matters

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton offers advice to physiotherapy students starting out

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton
CSP chief executive Karen Middleton

I can still remember my first day when I started training to be a physiotherapist – the qualification then meant membership of the CSP, and the training was attached solely to a hospital. St Mary’s Hospital in my case. 

Oh how things have changed – and so much for the better.

I can remember the mixture of trepidation and excitement and discovering how little I actually knew about what physiotherapy was.  And I remember desperately wanting to belong.

I doubt much has changed about those feelings for physiotherapy students today.

I often think physiotherapy is both a small and large profession – it’s surprising who knows who but, equally, we are the largest allied health profession, and our profile and influence is huge.

So belonging is important and I’ve spoken before about how those of us in this fabulous profession can help or hinder others to feel like they belong, particularly as students, and it’s often the small things that count most!

To those of you who are just starting your physiotherapy training, my message is what a wonderful choice you have made! 

Despite all the turmoil the healthcare system is facing, almost all of our members talk about the love of their job and their profession and those they work with. 

It’s a great privilege to serve others, particularly when they are at their most vulnerable.

I can honestly say I haven’t had a single job in my career of nearly 40 years that I haven’t enjoyed (perhaps not every day though) and I know I am very privileged to be able to say that.

This is what I want for all physiotherapy students, so however tentative you are feeling at this early stage, stick with it, as it’s worth it!

This profession has enabled me to work in the public and private sector, to teach, to manage and lead some wonderful teams and services, to travel the world and work closely with ministers to shape healthcare policy. And that’s on top of the ten years I spent working clinically. In all these roles I used the transferable skills from my physiotherapy training.

I want everyone to feel like they belong to this wonderful profession and it’s incumbent on us all to make this a reality, particularly for those who are new to our membership. 

The CSP will be right alongside all of you, from this early stage up until and beyond the day you retire! 

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