Why I will always be a member of the CSP

Laura Bunce was one of the four pre-registration students on a non-facing placement with the CSP this summer

She discusses how the CSP member only benefits have helped her on her placement, and why she will always remain a member of the CSP. 

Laura Bunce

Laura Bunce is a final year MSc pre-registration student from the University of Southampton. She has just completed her final placement with the CSP and is looking forward to passing her degree and gaining her registration in the new year.

Ping! The email dropped into my university inbox from my placement coordinator:  “The CSP are offering a Southampton student the chance to complete a 6-week placement with them this summer… Please reply if this interests you.” A non-patient facing placement; what exactly would I be learning from that?  

I have been a fairly engaged student member since the start of my MSc degree in January 2020, following the CSP on social media, reading Frontline magazine and the e-bulletin email updates for students in particular. However, I didn’t really know what the CSP actually did, or could offer me as a member. I knew this placement would provide an opportunity to test different leadership and management skills to see whether this was something I enjoyed, was good at and therefore might consider in the future. I had already begun to think about the possibility of not remaining in clinical practice forever and have always enjoyed helping to teach and educate others. Placements are a supernumerary learning opportunity, and as I had already discovered, you learn what you don’t like as much as what you do. Besides, when else was I going to have the opportunity to have a sneak-peek into the world of the CSP? So, I called my mum to ask for her advice. Her response- “You would be crazy not to.” 

The past six weeks of my final student placement have been a whirlwind of meetings, research, reading and more. I have developed a number of skills that I am unsure of when otherwise I would have had the chance to do so at such an early stage of my career. I couldn’t have achieved some of the things I have on my placement without the assistance of some of the member only benefits of my CSP membership. For example, it was suggested that I used the interactive CSP (iCSP) forums to reach out to our associate members. These are discussion threads created by members for support, to ask for advice or to raise awareness of topics and to disseminate research. I’d never even heard of this section of the website, and so I investigated and subscribed to some of the topic areas that I am most interested in: including students, pelvic health and learning and development. I now get a regular email updates with popular discussion topics on subjects that I am genuinely interested in. It’s also been interesting following some threads where registered members ask for help with complex case studies - and seeing members work together to offer solutions or support. This is definitely a membership perk I shall be taking advantage of again in the future.  

I am currently writing my dissertation, and have considered the future career route of becoming a clinical academic, so the unearthing of the Discovery Hub - the CSP’s own online database search tool will be instrumental in helping me with finding reputable evidence, and also staying up to date with the evidence in the areas I will work in. The library service  has created a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide to get the most out of this feature. In addition to my placement project, I spent time curating a ‘how to’ guide about literature searching, academic writing and refencing which will be available to members to access in the future.  

On placement, the mentoring sessions I have had from CSP staff including Claire Fordham (professional adviser), Gill Rawlinson (assistant director for practice & development) and Karen Middleton (chief executive), have been hugely helpful for me for my personal development as a physiotherapist. These sessions allow you to ask questions and receive expert opinions from CSP staff. Therefore, having found this such a valuable learning experience, the mentoring platform is another feature which I will look to make use of when I get my first band 5 job or start to consider when it might be time to switch the focus of my career. It is open to all members to become a mentee or even a mentor yourself.    

Another important opportunity that CSP membership offers is the open invite to join the CSP networks - either regionally, or nationally as part of the LGBTQ+, BAME  or Disability networks. These networks are open to everyone – whether you identify as belonging yourself to one of these groups, or as an ally.

The regional networks are volunteer led and is definitely something I will be considering joining personally in the future. All the CSP networks offer CPD sessions and the chance to connect with other likeminded individuals. My time with the CSP has also highlighted their commitment to their impressive equity, diversity and belonging strategy as an organisation. The past events of the 18 months have made me more aware of the importance of this sort of strategy even existing, and I have been really proud to be a member of an organisation who takes this so seriously, genuinely committing to lead change. 

The placement has opened my eyes to the extensive possibilities of a career path beyond clinical practice, as well as progression to some of the higher banding positions available in the NHS for example. The success of my project on placement has proven to me that I possess some important leadership and management skills, and importantly that I enjoy this type of work. Therefore, in the future I plan to access the CSP’s funded Leadership Development Programme to continue to develop these important transferable skills, and to help me to shape my career. This opportunity offers HCPC registrants a two-semester modular programme delivered using a variety of learning methods to help you to improve your leadership skills. There are several funding awards offered towards this, or for other opportunities which will hone your skills as a physiotherapist. 

Having attended the Virtual Physiotherapy Conference in 2020 as a student volunteer, I had been blown away by the event and the CPD and networking opportunities it offers. I had wanted to be involved in the upcoming conference in November, and it being virtual again made that a more realistic ambition. I proposed the idea to Claire, my practice educator, of us hosting a session about the true value of a non-patient facing placement, as I am very aware that the benefits of such a placement are not widely recognised, by students or some future employers. Between us, we wrote a proposal, which was accepted! So, my final membership benefit that I believe is not one to be missed (although I may now be biased!) is attending the Virtual Physiotherapy Conference on 5-6 November. The conference is suitable for ALL CSP members – from associates to chartered members and allows you to soak in the breadth of the profession. Who knows; you may learn about an area of physiotherapy you had never previously considered, or network with someone in another trust or discipline you have been considering working in. 

The main thing that I have learnt from this placement about the CSP is the breadth of what membership truly offers, and the fact that it really values the opinions of the members to continuously improve this. I am really grateful to everyone I have met and networked with and have made a number of contacts who I hope to stay in touch with. It has inspired me to stay engaged and make the most of my membership – especially with graduation and the delights of the working world fast approaching. As a graduate, I urge you to ask yourself what the CSP can help you to achieve. Get involved, stay up to date and make the most of all the membership features you have access to. 


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