The challenges of transitioning from a student to a qualified physiotherapist in Covid times

‘My experience of working during Covid-19 has been a whirlwind of a journey, resulting in me becoming very resilient and adaptable.

Sydney Cox is a newly qualified physiotherapist from Coventry University working as a rotational band 5 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital

'Walking onto the ICU unit as a newly qualified physiotherapist was intimidating to say the least.

Sydney Cox
Sydney Cox

Let alone seeing the mass number of patients that are on NIV or intubated and ventilated, staff wearing PPE and the loud machines in the background.

I found myself staring into space, adrenalin running through my veins, wondering what have I got myself in for. Holding patients' hands whilst they are taking their final breaths without family close by has been a heart-wrenching experience.


I have struggled to process the number of deaths I have witnessed, patients I’ve proned and emotions I have had to fight through.

I have spent many evenings over the past six months holding back the tears, feeling emotionally exhausted and found it exceptionally difficult to stay positive.

This has sometimes resulted in me feeling desensitized from it all.

Despite that I have made strong friendships with my colleagues due to sharing similar experiences and being that shoulder to cry on.

Separating work from home 

I have used exercise, reading and writing a daily journal to separate work from home. Going for long walks and listening to podcasts has helped me reflect on my week and process my feelings.

Transitioning from a student to a qualified physiotherapist has been challenging. However, working with inspiring and experienced physiotherapists has given me the skills and exposure to enhance my knowledge.

Being oncall is a stressful process that all newly qualified physiotherapists fear. I have taken the initiative to treat acutely unwell patients with senior members of staff to increase my confidence in treating deteriorating patients.

Although it has been a tricky few months and not the average start to my career, I am proud to call myself a physiotherapist and will continue to throw myself at any challenge I am faced with.’

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