Career Profile – Physiotherapist

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Name: Shirley Johnson

Job: Physiotherapist

The main reason that I chose physiotherapy as a career was that it involved working with people, which may sound like a very clichéd answer, but as a physio you tend to spend a lot of time with your patient, as opposed to the other allied health professionals (dieticians, pharmacists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, etc. ). I trained in Cardiff University, in the Cardiff School of Physiotherapy.

Another reason was the variety of work that’s involved with physio, and I have worked in quite a few different settings. You can work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, rehab unit, sports team, special school, or in private practice. I’ve worked in public hospitals here and in the UK, but I’ve also worked in private practice and been very involved with sports teams: the senior Kilkenny hurlers, the Welsh national rugby team, and the Irish men’s hockey team. So if you do like sport, physiotherapy can be a great profession.

I think one of the main benefits of physiotherapy is the job satisfaction. Physio is all about trying to improve people’s situations, and trying to help them reach their full potential following an injury, pain or disability (which is a big area). It’s great to see the positive results in a patient, regardless of whether it’s a hamstring strain and they’re getting back to playing sport, a broken arm and they’re getting back to work, or they had a stroke or operation and are regaining mobility.

Another big benefit is working as part of a team. I was in private practice in Kilkenny for seven years and I moved back into the public setting about four years ago. In hospital there’s a far bigger physio team, and also you have all the other medical staff: doctors, nurses and all the allied health professionals, as opposed to working in private practice where you’re dealing mainly with GPs.

Difficult patients would be one of the main challenges of physiotherapy. You can come up against some challenging patients that you have to work at, but that can also be seen as a positive as well when the treatment succeeds. The money has improved, from a financial point of view, but it still wouldn’t be seen as being absolutely brilliant. I work in Outpatients, so I’m in a clinic setting whereby patients come in to see me. From 9. 00 to 4. 30, I have a list of patients that are referred from their GP or a consultant. So patients are individually assessed and you work with them in coming up with a treatment plan that is formulated in line with individual goals and objectives.


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