If you are coming to the end of your degree, you probably have a lot of questions about applying for and starting your first job as a newly qualified physio. To help answer some of these, the Student Reference Group hosted a webinar in June to put minds at ease and share experiences.
Starting your first job as a qualified physiotherapist can be daunting. To help reassure and provide some first-hand experiences of what to expect, the CSP Student Reference Group's Wales Officer, Esther Adikpe, hosted a webinar on this very subject in June. As a final year student at Cardiff University, Esther was also facing the prospect of applying, interviewing, and preparing for her first physio job. She therefore invited Chloe Dooley (new Band 5 Physio at Cardiff & Vale University Health Board) and Alex Nambyiah (CSP Professional Adviser) to help answer students' questions.
Hearing from a Band 5
Chloe graduated from Cardiff University in 2020 and started her Band 5 post that September. After working in the community, she is now a couple of months into her critical care and surgery rotation. Reflecting on how fast the year has gone, she shared that it's been a busy time as "there's quite a lot of new stuff to take in when you're newly qualified".
Audience question: How long did it take to get a job?
Chloe applied for four jobs before she found her present post. She found that the process helped to build up her interviewing skills.
It takes a bit of practice I found with how to write your application and how to answer the interview questions... Even if you get that rejection when you apply for a job, it's not like a failure. Just get some feedback from them and see what you could improve on for next time and then take that with you into your next job application... I was quite open with where I wanted to work which probably made it a little bit easier... Don't panic if you don't get the first [job] that you apply for.
Chloe then shared interview tips that she wish she knew a year ago when applying for her Band 5 role, including refreshing your MSK, neuro and respiratory knowledge, particularly in terms of how you've managed different patients. She also recommended learning the values of the Trust or Board you're applying to.
Every Trust will have slightly different values so it's worth knowing those and perhaps having a couple of examples of different situations, both within physio and outside.
Audience question: What are the durations of the rotations?
Chloe explains that in Cardiff rotations are 6 months but durations vary across Health Boards and Trusts, with some lasting four months and others providing double rotations.
It is sometimes a challenge when you just get comfortable in a team [and] into a routine and then you have to move... but I think it's the best way to build on the knowledge you've got as a student and get a bit more confident as a newly qualified. I was really worried about my first rotation in the community [as I thought] I was going to lose my acute skills, because I hadn't done an acute placement for a while. But I realised that each rotation gives you transferable skills that you can take with you to the next one."=
Audience question: How much support do you get? I'm worried I haven't had a lot of exposure to respiratory and orthopaedics.
Chloe explained that she also missed her respiratory placement because of Covid and recommends being open and honest with your supervisors from the start if you are going to be working in an area you are not confident or familiar with. The staff will then know what support to offer you.
On the rotation on at the moment I'm six weeks in now, and only in the last two weeks I've properly started treating patients on my own, so I had a four week induction period. You're not thrown in the deep end on your own...
Chloe added that a lot of trusts offer in-service training for Band 5s to ensure you keep on development.
I see my first 12 months, even my first few years as almost an extension of my degree.. I'm still learning at the moment, nearly every day there is something new. Don't stress - you're not expected to be this fully rounded physio when you're fresh out of uni. There's plenty of support out there."
Audience question: in your Band 5 job, are you doing any on call hours?
Chloe explained that some Trusts and Boards provide newly qualified physios with on-call training when they first start or when they are in their respiratory placement. She advised speaking to someone who works in the Trust or Board you will work in to find out more. At Cardiff and Vale, Chloe had her first on call in June.
It's a really exciting part of being a newly qualified physio, because you don't get to do that as a student and it's something completely different that you've not had to do before. I really enjoyed on one day but I've still got a lot to learn.
Audience question: Do you find it difficult organizing your time with work, CPD and social life, etc?
Chloe admitted that she finds balancing work with life far easier since graduating as her evenings are now her own. She advised having clear boundaries to ensure you don't burn out.
Don't feel that pressure when you first start to come home and do extra reading on top.
Some Trusts and Boards also provide study time. At her Health Board, Chloe is given around an hour and a half each week for training, self study or reflection.
Audience question: What did you do to prepare for your first job?
Chloe ensured she gave herself a break in the summer to recoup from her placements. When she found out what her first rotation would be, she then spent some time watching relevant webinars and reading up on the latest research.
This is only a sample of the questions received from students during the webinar. Watch the rest online on the CSP Students Youtube Channel.
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