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For years I procrastinated around trying to get a job that fitted into school hours or thinking about trying to go back to physio. I started working on a volunteer basis in the schools and with the pre-schools and I’m still on their committees. I just got to a point where I really wanted to have a go at getting my career back. I love being home with my kids, I have absolutely adored it, but I knew it was going to leave a massive void for me. The timings seemed to kind of work around doing my return to practice, just before Daisy started school with the thought of being employed fairly soon after she was at school.
Because Royal Derby is where I used to work I knew some of the managers and staff still, so I emailed the therapy manager at Royal Derby Hospital and asked if they could support a physiotherapist returning to practice. They were very welcoming and mentioned that I could get funding via Health Education England to help with this. I had read about professionals returning to practice in Frontline and used the Health Education England support page on Facebook to answer clinical, self-study, paperwork questions and funding questions.
Now working 22.5 hours a week filling a secondment role at Royal Derby, Sophie is delighted at the way her return has worked;
I'm really pleasantly surprised about where I am. I had been looking at re-directing my career away from general rehabilitation towards women’s health and that is what I have been able to achieve. As a mum, it’s a big passion for me, and I know a lot of ‘mum friends’, who have had certain issues, and it really hit home that this was the group of people I wanted to work with. I have managed to re-direct my return to practice with the women’s health team and hope to continue along this path.
Everyone here has been really supportive, generous and understanding in helping me return to practice and work around dropping the kids off at school and picking them up. It's an anxious time – you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position when you’ve been safely at home with your kids for so long, to come back, trying to act professionally, trying to dredge up all this clinical information that’s in there somewhere, learn new systems, and working with new staff. But everyone was very supportive. It’s just the normal demand of being a working mum, you have to get used to the change in routine and managing all these different areas. That's the biggest challenge - changing my whole work-life balance - but actually I’ve really enjoyed being back at work. I've enjoyed working in a team again and in an area that really interests me, so I feel very lucky.
From having had a career break herself, and making the transition back into work with the support of the return to practice scheme, would Sophie recommend taking this step to others?
Yes, it's knowing that you can achieve something this big after being out of practice for so long. I would personally advocate it, I feel like my confidence has grown massively, I’m now making the big decisions again that I've always been able to make but you stop making because you’re in a completely different situation. I've been able to come back into an absolutely brilliant team who have been really supportive.
I was proud to put my tunic back on, and my medical hat back on, and my kids are really proud, which I didn’t really anticipate, and that makes a difference to me. I think if I couldn't have managed to work my hours around my kids as much as I've been able to, that would have been a really difficult point for me. It’s been a big change in how you think and how you plan your weeks, but it’s all doable. For me, it’s a case of so far, so good.
If you're interested in returning to nursing email: dhft.PLSU@nhs.net
If you're interested in returning to an AHP profession email: UHDB.Ahppracticelearning@nhs.net