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Blog #65- How to Find Direction as a Physiotherapist?

So often students coming out of university have had one musculoskeletal placement and the rest mostly hospital placements. Most graduates have an idea of their “ideal” place to work but this sometimes turns out to be not what they would expect. Graduates feels like they have to make this choice of whether to be solely private or hospital based straight after university and it can put so many pressures on them as they start their career. More often or not, musculoskeletal settings are entirely different to the experience you might have had at university on clinical placements. The issue with this is that physiotherapists then find themselves working in one particular area not knowing which direction they want to go in with their career. They become stagnant and sometimes even drop out of physiotherapy entirely as it is not “what they expected”.

So how do we overcome becoming stagnant in a job/clinical area that we do not actually enjoy working in? How do we work out our areas of interest?

- Try a range of different areas- be open and willing to treat an array of patients even if you do not feel too confident. Sometimes this push of treating conditions that you might avoid for fear that you might not have the same knowledge as a senior colleague can strip you of opportunities to find other interest areas

- Do various professional development courses even if you think they might not be for you- have you considered a paediatrics or women’s or men’s health course? Would doing a pilates course benefit the business you are working in?

- Think about which patients you enjoy treating and see if your caseload can be tailored to focus on more of those case presentations

- Do you enjoy being more of a mentor and want to progress into a leadership role? Discuss with your employer to see if this might be possible. Often employers have a quarterly review whereby you can discuss your areas of interest and where you see yourself over the next few years

- Have a mentor or discuss with your colleagues how you are feeling

- Consider rural settings- they can often deliver roles with a extensive and diverse caseload which can mean that you do not have to specialize as such in one area however become more of a rural generalist. Most therapists can dismiss rural but in fact when they try it, it can completely change their perspective and career direction.

It is completely okay as a practitioner to change your areas of interest. This does not mean jumping between jobs after only a few months, however self reflecting and evaluating where your level of knowledge is currently at and where you would like to see yourself in the next few years. If we specialise too early as a practitioner, we can sometimes lack a broad and extensive level of knowledge that working across the board can teach us. There is plenty of time to specialise, however in the mean time it is highly beneficial to your mental well being and job satisfaction to work in various areas.


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