Joanna is part of our allied health professionals here at
#TeamCDDFT and she has kindly shared her return to practice
When I left my profession, physiotherapy, in 2010 to focus on
the needs of our growing family, I didn't expect to return. I had
worked as a physiotherapist in various settings in the Midlands
after joining the register in 2004. When I left I was a band 6 on
acute wards, doing respiratory physio, but also covering other
specialties, including working in a Children's Hospice. However, my
work became increasingly difficult to fit around the needs of my
four children and my husband's work, so I felt that I had to
We moved to the North East with my husband's job in 2015 and I
became increasingly frustrated that I had skills, experience and
two degrees that I had worked really hard to acquire, but couldn't
use. I had considered many other professions and job opportunities
but none of them were quite right. So, just prior to the pandemic I
decided that I wanted to attempt to return to physio.
However, the pandemic and obvious need for more NHS staff
gave me the push I needed to get on with it. Once home-school was
over (so I thought!) in September 2020, I finally began my Return
to Practice (RTP) journey.
At first RTP seemed really daunting! I had to do 420 hours of
supervised clinical work and/or study. I needed a supervised
placement to regain my confidence and refresh my skills, but had
very few contacts in the North East. I wondered if I would
even find a job that fitted our busy lives at the end of it!
However, I decided I had to "push the doors" and find out.
I got some great advice from Paul Chapman at the HCPC/HEE as
well as from other returnees once I had registered my intent to
I braced myself for the challenge, updated my CV and emailed
Nic Emery, Professional Lead of Adult Physiotherapy at CDDFT, my
local NHS trust, asking if they would consider supporting my return
with a supervised clinical placement.
After so many stories of returnees finding it almost impossible
to get a placement, especially during a pandemic, I was absolutely
delighted and amazed to hear back from Nic just three days later
with a yes!
We then planned and prepared for my placement in Durham at
University Hospital North Durham (UHND), feeling our way through a
system we were all new to, but the Trust and physio department
could not have been more helpful or more accommodating and I
started my clinical hours in December 2020.
It was an absolute joy to return to physio and work with the
team at CDDFT, it really wasn't any harder than returning after a
maternity leave! I was able to work voluntarily and supernumerary
in a wide range of departments, refresh my skills and identify
gaps. I studied alongside this, keeping a log of my hours and
reflections on my learning. Lesley Charman, my named
supervisor was incredibly supportive, encouraging and helpful
I started to build an idea of what I wanted as a job and had
some really helpful conversations during my return. I took the
opportunity to do some of my RTP hours in Bishop Auckland Hospital,
on the frailty and rehab wards and I quickly realised that it
suited my skills really well. Just after I finished my RTP hours I
was interviewed for a band 6 job at Bishop Auckland Hospital and
was delighted to be successful, I started working for the Trust in
I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who helped me on my RTP
journey, to all those in CDDFT and especially the physio
departments at Durham and Bishop for welcoming me, supporting me,
for making my return so easy, enjoyable and for reminding me how
much I love being a physio! I had lots of support and advice from
other returnees too, through the RTP network.
It doesn't have to be difficult to return, even after 10 years
out! Thank you so much CDDFT!
'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly,
efficiently and professionally with full explanations and
compassion from all staff involved'.
Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital