Here at goPhysio, we spend a lot of time and resources investing in our team. Training, mentoring, support, and personal and professional development, are all crucial in creating a positive environment in which individuals can thrive.
We recently embarked on a new avenue for goPhysio, helping to support and develop our future profession, by working with Southampton and Winchester Universities to offer placements for student Physiotherapists. We feel it is crucial that students get to experience the reality and joys of working in a private practice!
This year, we welcomed our first student to goPhysio, Matt from University of Southampton. At the end of his placement, we asked Matt to share his reflections with us. Here is the full (unedited) version!
What did you expect of the placement prior to starting? Prior to starting at goPhysio, I was unsure of what to expect. I had experienced small bits of what musculoskeletal physiotherapy was like away from the NHS but had never experienced it in full, and within a private clinic. During our time at University, we are heavily focussed towards working within the NHS and private practice is something that is spoken about much less, so I was eager to find out more.
How did your find working in the private practice setting? Once starting, my experience was hugely positive. Working in private practice gives you the opportunity to explore many avenues, which are geared towards what the patient ultimately wants and what is important to them. Being able to look at things like gait re-education and take patients through a full gym programme is something that will keep someone from getting repeatedly injured, forcing them to spend more time with physios and result in more frustration with their training.
Did anything surprise you about the work in a private practice? I guess what surprised me is the time pressures that physios are under in private practice, despite popular opinion. Most of the things that you hear about musculoskeletal physio in the NHS are about the immense time pressures that physio’s are under. It is commonly mentioned that physio’s will have only 15 minutes to offer assessment, treatment and write up notes. While this is not the case in private practice, the time pressure still remains. The physio’s at goPhysio may have 45 minutes to initially assess, diagnose and start treatment and then typically 30 minutes each session to treat after that, however the patient load is still beyond what I was expecting. The schedule is still very busy and there are days where a physio will go back-to-back-to-back, seeing patients and quickly writing up the notes, just in time to welcome the next patient. Also, as the physio will have more time to assess and treat, this means that more is able to be covered in the session. What often happens, is that, as mentioned, the physio will be able to explore many more avenues to the patients rehabilitation and they will spend more time on the things that mean the most to the patient, usually including more functional activities and higher level rehab.
What do you think the experience is like from a patients perspective at goPhysio? I think the experience from the patient is extremely positive. The focus at goPhysio is on giving the patient the most value possible for their money. The team of physiotherapists and sports therapists are all experts in what they do and offer a bespoke service to each of their patients. The multiple services offered provide a wide range of opportunities to not only rehabilitate, but to keep physically active and maintain physical fitness such as the Pilates and group classes.
Any advice to anyone thinking of a placement or working in private practice? My advice would be to think about what else you can offer your patients outside of the conventional physiotherapy methods you might be used to. In my experience from this placement, there has been a huge emphasis on going the extra mile for patients. This may be thinking about Pilates qualifications or being able to put on a good gym-based rehab session.
Overall, how did you find the experience? I found the experience very enjoyable and engaging. Overall, it was an excellent opportunity for me to see how a clinic in private practice is run and to learn from some expert clinicians. Personally, I feel my transformation from week one to week six was huge and my confidence has grown and that could not have happened with out the support and knowledge that was imparted on me.
What were the positive aspects of the placement? There were many positive aspects to the placement. Being able to sit in on such a wide variety of conditions has greatly increased my knowledge of the pathophysiology and management of these pathologies. As well as this, being able to spend time with many different clinicians has allowed me to see many different ways of working so that I can take things from each and apply them to my own practice. I was also able to take charge on a few cases whilst under supervision, which has given me vital experience which will benefit me greatly upon starting my career.
What could we improve and how? The nature of private practice brings it’s own challenges in regards to the student experience which are unavoidable. The fact that the patients are paying their own money for an expert level of care means that there are more limited opportunities to take the lead as a student than there would be in the NHS. Despite this, every effort was made to give me as many opportunities to develop my skills as possible so I don’t think there are any things that could be done differently. There is also many opportunities to complete alternative activities which gives the opportunity to learn many transferrable skills, such as providing online content.
Were the team friendly, approachable and supportive? The team were amazing with me and I can’t thank them enough. All of the clinicians that I was shadowing were welcoming and took time out of their busy schedule to explain concepts to me and show me their clinical reasoning with the patients we were seeing. Everyone else in the clinic made a real effort to make me feel welcome and I will miss everyone a lot.
Is there anything that would help ahead of the placement? I think what helped me was just going into the placement with an open mind. As mentioned, a student placement in private practice will be very different than your usual placement in the NHS so try to be adaptable and find some other ways in which you can get your learning in.
Our team at goPhysio thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a steep learning curve for us all and we were challenged in finding ways to balance our patients needs with developing Matt’s needs too. Patients were very welcoming, supportive and encouraging, and we are very grateful for their support in proving Matt the opportunity to learn too. We are very much looking forward to our next student joining us next week!