Rachel Thurgood

Job Title

Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner

Is your role clinical or non-clinical?


When you were in school, did you want to join the NHS?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was at school or college, but I had an amazing science teacher who encouraged my interest in biology so I thought I would like to work in this area but wasn’t sure where.

Tell us about your job

A typical day…. Provide clinical supervision to junior members of staff or students Clinical visit for patients who need rehabilitation; complete an assessment/review, provide exercises, equipment, or support activities such as swimming, gym, horse riding or trampolining. Clinical visits for patients with complex physical health; complete a holistic assessment/review, provide advice or specialist equipment, exercises/stretches, hydrotherapy, horse riding or trampolining, Admin: write clinical notes, speak to GPs or other health or social care teams, send clinical letters, liaise with families, complete funding requests, order equipment Support service users to access mainstream services Liaise with Multi professional team Attend professional meetings Attend family meetings Lecture in universities Complete training or continuing professional development

How did you come to work in the NHS?

I left school with 9 GCSE’s and went to college to complete Biology, Chemistry and Psychology A-Levels. Unfortunately, I did not settle well into college and did not do well in my final exams. I went to work in the MOD in an admin role, got married and had children. Whilst I was pregnant, I required physiotherapy and felt it was a career choice I would like to pursue. I found a job as a Physiotherapy Assistant (Band 2 then 3) and completed my Human Biology A level in the evenings. I applied for university and was accepted on a part time BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy degree course that I was able to complete whilst also working as an Associate Practitioner (Band 4) in Stroke rehabilitation. Once qualified(Band 5) I completed 3 years of rotations in hospitals and community teams to develop my clinical skills and then started working in Learning Disabilities where I became a specialist Physiotherapy (Band 6) and then developed my clinical skills and managerial skills to become an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner (Band7).

What are some challenges?

Lack of time! There just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we would like to do so as a team sometimes we have to weigh up our options and make compromises to continue to provide the best care we can.

What do you love about your job?

Working with service users (patients) who have a learning disability is both lots of fun and very rewarding, although challenging at times, being a physiotherapist allows us to see people make positive changes to their health, quality of life and wellbeing. You can really make a difference. I love seeing students and staff happy and progressing with their learning and clinical skills. I also enjoy working in a multi professional team and find myself learning something new every day from my colleagues. We are also a sociable team and I am lucky to call my colleagues my friends.

Which Clinical colleagues support you?

Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Dieticians, Speech and Language Therapist, Learning Disability Registered Nurses, Art Therapists, Occupational Therapists, other physiotherapists, District nurses, GP’s, Consultant, Hospital Liaison Nurses all other hospital staff (orthotics, radiologists etc) This list could go on and on!

Which Non-clinical colleagues support you?

Administration staff, Operational staff, Social prescribers, local gyms, day service staff, commissioners, College staff, School staff, University staff, Social workers, care home staff and community care team staff.

Is there career progression in your role and how would you get there?

1. GCSE’s to include science English and Maths (4-9) A-Levels, at least one in Biology/Human Biology (UCAS points are different for each Uni) BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy via UCAS application, most universities also like applicants to have an good understanding of the different a roles of physiotherapy (it is not just sports) and if you can get some experience even better. 2. Some universities offer a MSc Physiotherapy if you already have a BSc degree in a related subject. 3. Some universities offer an apprentice scheme but you will need to already be working in a physiotherapy assistant role and be supported to complete this by your workplace. 4. Once in a physiotherapy role you will need to complete further training in management and/or clinical subjects.

What would you say to a young person thinking of joining the NHS?

The NHS has a huge variety of roles both clinical and nonclinical for you to help people when they are at their most vulnerable. Everyday you get to make a difference to someone else’s life, there is nothing more rewarding. The staff teams in the NHS are supportive, every day is different, and you are encouraged to become the best person you can be. Have a good look at what is out there, speak to your teachers or someone you know in the NHS and plan your pathway to the career you want.

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