Charlotte Buchanan

Job Title

Acute Physiotherapist

Is your role clinical or non-clinical?


Tell us about your role

I work as an Acute Physiotherapist in the NHS.  I work on the wards in the hospital, treating people who have a wide range of conditions and helping them to get home safely once they’re well enough.

As well as helping improve people’s mobility and planning the safest way for them to return home, I also provide support to people with respiratory problems and help them to clear their lungs if they are unable to do so themselves. I do this in several areas from Intensive Care and Surgery to Elderly Care wards. 

Why did you decide to join the NHS?

I have always enjoyed helping people and found it rewarding seeing other people’s happiness at small things I have done for them. Working in the NHS, you work with people when they are at their most vulnerable and help them to build their confidence until they are back to feeling like their usual selves. It’s a great feeling. I also enjoy working as part of a team, and the NHS is one big team!

How did you join the NHS?

When I was in my first and second year of college, I did some work experience in various hospitals to make sure Physiotherapy was what I wanted to do. After college, I went straight to Oxford Brookes University and completed a three year degree in Physiotherapy. From there, I applied for a few jobs and secured my first role in the NHS as a Band 5 Physiotherapist. 

What’s your day-to-day like?

The first thing I do every day is have a meeting with the Nurses, Doctors and other team members to discuss the plan for everybody on our ward for the day. I then co-ordinate with my own team (usually myself, an Occupational Therapist and some Therapy Assistants) who is going to treat which patient and we spend our day going around the ward seeing as many people as we can. 

What are some of the challenges?

Hospitals are busy places and sometimes there can be a lot of patients to see. This is where teamwork comes in, as we work together to meet the high demand. 

What is the best part of your role?

Being able to successfully get somebody back home after a long stay in hospital is definitely the best part. We get to know our long-term patients and their families very well, so it is always a day to celebrate when they are fit enough to go home as everybody has worked very hard to achieve this goal. The NHS staff are great, there is a real team feel to working in the NHS.

What is life like outside of work?

For me, very busy. I teach dancing to children four days a week – three of which are in the evenings straight after work. This means that I’m constantly on the go but I get to keep doing a life-long hobby alongside work which gives me great work-life balance. We also work around one weekend in 6 weeks so there is plenty of time to catch up with family and friends outside of work.

What’s your top tip for developing a career at the NHS? 

Be a good team worker. You will be working with a huge number of people over your career who will all have different backgrounds, so it’s important to always be kind and value other people’s opinions. 

Do you have a personal NHS story you’d like to share?

Working in the NHS throughout the pandemic was a big challenge, but for every sad story there was a positive one. I was initially placed solely in Intensive Care to monitor and treat Covid patients who required ventilators to support their breathing. This was tough, but as time went on, some of these patients recovered. In the space of two weeks, one patient went from being ventilated to having a walking and stairs assessment. She went home the following day, just in time for her birthday. We really get to be involved in people’s complete recovery journey and this was really uplifting to see in a tough time for everyone. 

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

Always be ready to learn, no matter how experienced you become. I am still learning new things every day four years on.

Anything else you would like to share to a young person who is thinking about a career with the NHS?

If you thrive in a team, enjoy helping others and like chocolate biscuits – the NHS is for you! 

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