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Returning to practice – a journey

We caught up with Pieta Aitken – a practitioner who has recently completed the return to practice programme and her supervisor Jessie Snowdon to talk about the programme and what it’s like to participate in.

Returning after a long period away from the profession can be daunting and Pieta says it took her a few years to take the plunge. “Had I not had the support I have received, I may not be practising once again. Of course, I was nervous of the unknown. I had many questions, will things come back to me? Will I be a good physiotherapist once again? Will my family and I adjust to me working?”

Having made the decision to return to practising Pieta found the supervision involved to be invaluable, “I’m lucky to have had Jessie. Our weekly and then fortnightly meetings meant I knew that I had someone championing me, I could ask questions, look for reassurance, and receive feedback from peer reviews.”

For Jessie the process was just as new – this was her first time supervising a return to practice programme. “I’ve supervised in other roles but not this programme, it was a great first time though, I really enjoyed the process, Pieta was very easy to work with and it reminded me how much I enjoy a supervision role.

“It was also really rewarding. For example, I really enjoyed going back through the Standards and because I’ve been working in aged care for so long it was great to work though Pieta’s questions and to really think about my own practice.

“The Board was really helpful for both of us. I think we both really appreciated the structure and support and there was an expectation of success. I particularly liked that they checked in with us through the programme so we always knew where we were.”

As an employer, who now employs Pieta, Jessie says the programme offers a lot. “Having a physio return to practice is a huge win for the profession. I am also hopeful that because return to practice physios are often in a more settled stage of life that retention will be easier – and this makes for an incredibly valuable new employee. Having been through the process with Pieta we are now looking at creating a clearly structured pathway and hoping to attract other physios back into the profession.”

And for Pieta her return and the aged care space she now practises in have been incredibly rewarding. “I have learnt a lot – both refreshing and gaining new knowledge. But working as a team and having open and clear communication are two of the most valuable skills I have relied on during the past six months. Our residents are at the centre of everything we do and you realise pretty quickly the importance of belonging to something bigger than

Physiotherapists who are interested in return to practice can find out more about the process and programme here.