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Rediscovering Your Voice – Claire Horner

My internal struggle with MSK Physio & the hope that #TheBigRs gives me

For a while now, I have struggled with the direction of travel of MSK physiotherapy because it isn’t what I had envisaged delivering to my patients when I qualified. I, like many others, in an attempt to progress my career in this field, have found myself on injecting courses, imaging courses, and in clinics where I have a single 30 minute slot to assess, diagnose, and signpost a patient to the most appropriate stream of care. A system that is built on and financially incentivised by the biomedical model. These are ever more complex patients and the responsibility has shifted from GPs to MSK clinicians without the appropriate support in place, particularly in terms of time. Where is the time to ‘listen’, to ‘empathise’, to ‘hear their story’, to ‘deliver rehab’ rather than just suggest it? I often leave work late because I have chosen to spend that time with patients but inevitably still have an inordinate amount of admin to complete. I remember conversations with my husband on my most frustrated days: “why should I have to leave late? Why doesn’t everyone leave late? Is this my problem or someone else’s?” His response “it’s because you care Claire” really resonated and I love him for it. I think to myself on my hardest days: “the day you stop caring Claire is the day you have to stop doing this job”.

Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoy my job and have been rewarded both financially and emotionally for it and my motivation to do the best for my patients is what keeps me going. However, I suffered with anxiety over the last year which was triggered but not wholly down to the writing of my dissertation for my recently completed MSc Advanced Physiotherapy. It caused me to reflect on my own health and wellbeing. Perhaps my internal struggle with MSK physiotherapy had impacted? I felt like having letters after my name must be the only way I could progress in my career; where academic writing and publication was the only avenue for discussion on a wider scale, even if it didn’t necessarily suit my personality. I am usually an extremely confident person, not afraid to share my views or challenge beliefs. Over time I think I felt like a machine, a small cog in a massive wheel, my voice getting quieter and quieter. Despite the support I have personally had recently for my mental health, I couldn’t help but feel that more frank and open discussion surrounding mental health, more encouragement of critical thinking and championing of individual’s knowledge and experience, was needed. Reflecting on this now, Jack Chew, the Physio Matters Podcast, and #TheBigRs have opened my mind to new possibilities. The conference was the most comfortable I have felt in a professional environment in a long while, where discussion was encouraged, where views were respected, where diversity of opinion was embraced, and where everyone was made to feel that they could have some influence.

Now you may understand how personally invested my comments to Jack were in the final session of day 2: “through your voice you have given us a voice” and most importantly a platform to use it. I feel inspired, supported, and motivated to use the skills I know I have, to influence MSK physiotherapy for the future, however small my input may be. Thank you for giving me hope.

 “Through your voice you have given us a voice”

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