Michaela: A day in the life of a senior physiotherapist
I’m Michaela and I am a senior physiotherapist working across two immigration removal centres Gatwick and Heathrow. I also work as an NHS physiotherapist in my local trust.
I qualified from University of Plymouth in 2018 and completed my junior rotations at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. I have always had an interest in pelvic health and in my NHS role this is my primary focus now, alongside co-ordinating student placements.
At Gatwick and Heathrow, I am a musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapist and have been working with Practice Plus Group since last year when we established the first physiotherapy service in Gatwick, followed by Heathrow this year. I love the support given but also the opportunity to be autonomous and really get involved with managing the service. I thrive on knowing I have a certain amount of independence and can be proactive and creative.
As an MSK physiotherapist, I assess and treat patients for problems which affect their muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. I see a lot of back, knee and shoulder pain as well as more complex conditions. It’s a fast-paced environment where you are always on your toes. Communication is the most important skill – you can be the best clinician out there but if you can’t build a rapport or explain your findings then patients won’t follow your advice! My focus is always on what’s important to the patient, whether that’s playing with grandchildren or training for a marathon.
In the Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), it is even more fast-paced and unpredictable. Speaking to patients from all round the world, who each have different cultures and beliefs, and not knowing if I will get a follow up appointment means I have to be hyper-focused throughout. It’s a real test of my physiotherapy and communication skills, but I love this challenge. Working in a secure environment, you’re instantly part of a large team – not just healthcare – who are all very friendly and helpful. This was my first time in a secure environment and whilst it seems daunting at first it becomes second nature after a while!
The thing I love most about physiotherapist is you can take it in whichever direction you want to, and you never stop learning.