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  • Lian Yun-Perng, Physiotherapist

Do you want to be a PHYSIOTHERAPIST F.O.R.E.V.E.R?

Do you want to be a Physiotherapist forever? I’ve been asked that often enough and I know I love my profession but not necessarily my job. To answer the question, I would say it depends on what you’re after.

I was having a conversation with my professor about how a manager can influence the working environment and he gave me an insightful comment. He said “Too many “bad” physios take up leading/managerial roles because the “good” physios do not want to do administrative work”. What he said has never crossed my mind.

This conversation came up because I was complaining about how managers were concern with performance and numbers over the well-being of their colleagues and clients. This can be seen in the NHS (my example can be untrue to some trust), I remember that the manager of the hospital would urge the physios to discharge their patients as soon as they’re ready or physios will be given a high caseload in MSK outpatient department and the department is often short-handed.

Me, Prof. Anand Pandyan and Marcus

I am unable to define a “good” or “bad” physio. The definition is subjective but an “ideal” physio manager to me is one that is able to fight and stand up for the profession. He/ She should be able to balance the workload of the clinicians and manage the expectations of the management.

My ideal manager would be one that has experience in the healthcare field, preferably a physiotherapist. He/ she needs to understand what happens at the ground, how much pressure the clinicians go through and how increasing their workload would affect their delivery of care. There should also be a clear direction on where the organization is heading and how we’re heading there.

This is my third job now and I was able to work with many kinds of managers. None of them had the skills or knowledge to manage a clinic properly. They did not possess any management qualifications or training and just made do with whatever they deemed right. Reflecting back, the clinicians were required to do non-clinical work like marketing, events planning, social media duties etc. These extra work may sound overwhelming but it will actually help you develop soft and hard skills. It will also make you think out of the box and make you leave your comfort zone. I had the opportunity to have some of those responsibilities and I thank God for it because it gave me a chance to develop myself as an individual.

Commonly, a physio’s mindset is “I am a physio and my job is to treat patients” but it will not happen in private practice. Most would be quite resistant work to beyond their scope of practice (non-clinical work) and might end up quitting. I would strongly encourage all physios to work beyond their scope of practice even though it is stressful because the experience is invaluable and you will increase your value in future.

I must admit I was resistant to change as well but I was willing to try. I did the job and I got the experience, however unpleasant it can be. That extra job gave me ideas/ experience which increased my value as a wage earner. I wasn’t only a physio; I was also someone that could contribute to the development of the company and that is how you can set yourself apart. There will be a countless number of physios that possess good clinical skills but how far will they go? Will they have the capabilities to manage a clinic or be consultants if all they did were upgrading their clinical skills? I know I am delving into business/management skills but that is how you set yourself apart. I believe your career path is brighter when you have some business/management skills.

Take home message

Manage your expectations

Complain but do the job

Learn the trade and grow

Keep an open mind

Don’t think like a clinician ONLY

Thank you for reading! I’ll be sharing more about some marketing strategies in my next blog so be sure to check it out.

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Lian Yun-Perng  

UK Qualified Physiotherapist
Bachelor of Physiotherapy

Keele University, United Kingdom
Diploma in Physiotherapy

AIMST University, Malaysia

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