Vicky returned to School in February to speak about her work as a physiotherapist. She was one of a number of Old Girls and Old Boys who shared their experiences with GCSE and A level students considering careers as health professionals.
What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?
Weirdly, I didn't have a favourite subject; most of them gave me something to enjoy (except History, which I found dull and boring). I enjoyed English and RE because we were encouraged to debate and think 'outside the box' regularly. I still enjoy a good debate now (just ask my friends!) – this obviously gave me a firm foundation to build on! For that reason, Miss Lewisson comes to mind. She was a young teacher who brought a modern twist to our English lessons – exploring female heroines such as Sylvia Plath and Katherine Mansfield was new and exciting as a 15 year old. My favourite teacher was Mrs Lewis (Biology): she was warm and fun and made science interesting!
What further study have you undertaken since leaving School?
Initially I did a Business Studies degree in Leeds and then, after a brief period of work in London, I decided to become a Physiotherapist. I studied for this in Bristol, qualifying in 1999. I am currently in the final throes of an MSc in Trauma and Orthopaedics at Salford University.
What/who influenced your career choice?
My mother was a physiotherapist and although I initially did a degree in Business after leaving School, I came back to this profession because I had seen how much satisfaction she had from it. I always remember her saying it is a profession that provides flexibility of work and great variety – she was not wrong!
What/who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother is the person who inspired me – but in terms of what has been my biggest inspiration, that is travel, without a doubt! Seeing many wonderful parts of the world over the years I believe has expanded my mind, equipped me with confidence and given me an ability to adapt, to rationalize, to empathize and to seek adventure in life!
How did you progress to your current role and what does it involve?
I have been a qualified physiotherapist since completing a Bsc Hons in Physiotherapy in Bristol in 1999. Over the 15 years I have been working I have specialised after initial rotational posts to become a specialist in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. I have worked for the NHS for the most part, but have also worked privately in the UK and abroad (for a Saudi Princess no less!!).
As the NHS has evolved so has my role. New roles emerged and professional boundaries have blurred. I became an 'Advanced Practitioner' eight years ago, working within an Orthopaedic team in Bolton rather than within Physiotherapy. Continuous Professional Development is essential in Physiotherapy and this involves many post-grad courses. I am about to complete an Msc in Trauma and Orthopaedics at Salford University. I am also trained in – and practise – joint and soft tissue injection therapy, manipulation, investigation interpretation, eg X-ray and MRI, and acupuncture, as well as a host of physiotherapy-related courses over the years. I have my own caseload in the community setting and also work in fracture clinics at the hospital.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the fact the no two days are the same. I love meeting a wide variety of people, with a host of different complaints. I love the challenges and the rewards you get from those interactions. Knowing you have helped people at the end of your working day may sound a cliché, but it does make you feel like your job has worth! I also get great fulfilment from working with a strong, supportive team who allow me to develop my skills on a daily basis.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
Where I am now really, I suppose, having developed my career within the NHS to a point where I feel experienced and able to impart knowledge to peers and patients ... and pupils!
What skills are essential for your role?
Good analytic skills, being able to reason. Good interpersonal skills, including being a good listener, as well as a keen observer. An awareness of equity and diversity within the population. Enthusiasm and dedication and an ability to adapt to changing health care needs.
What are the biggest challenges?
Overcoming the bureaucracy in the NHS! Sometimes you have to deal with challenging patients and stressful situations. You have to meet expectations of patients which are growing, but also understand that you cannot always 'cure' everyone!
How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?
As well as the academic side of things, the ethos of the School and the team sports in which I was involved have instilled a sense of responsibility and dedication in me, whilst being able to communicate confidently with anyone in any situation!
Why did you offer your assistance to School?
I was asked to do it and I was happy to contribute! I remember very little about careers support when I was at School.
Did you enjoy talking to current pupils?
Very much so! They were delightful and asked questions, which is always well received.