Passion and potential: from the NHS to independent practice
From NHS to independent neuro OT: Krysalis director Jo Throp reflects on the influencers that have shaped her 24-year career journey within this “life-changing” profession.
Dressing in a small uniform room at Salisbury District Hospital, my NHS standard-issue bottle green trousers and tunic signified much more to me than a mortarboard and gown.
On a sunny day in July 1997, I graduated as an occupational therapist (OT) from the University of Southampton.
The day itself represented the culmination of years of hard work, much of which did not come easily to me. The details of my graduation ceremony are now quite hazy, but I can still clearly remember, as if it were yesterday, arriving on the first day of my first job as an OT.
Dressing in a small uniform room at Salisbury District Hospital, my NHS standard-issue bottle green trousers and tunic signified much more to me than my mortarboard and gown.
Although the one could not have happened without the other, this tunic, with its green-edged lapels, gave me a feeling of confidence. I had, indeed, arrived!
Ones to watch
That first day marked the beginning of my career. However, the person I was back then was vastly different to the clinician I was to become.
I believe, in a long professional career, we all encounter people who prove pivotal to our learning and development.
Often these people are not aware of their influence or the impact they inadvertently have on others by creating a change in them.
There have been two such people in my career who have positively influenced and still guide my occupational therapy practice today.
Commanding of attention
I met my first such ‘mentor’ at the Wessex Rehabilitation Centre, a regional unit in Salisbury for treating trauma of the hand.
Consisting of a heavy and a light workshop, the therapeutic rehabilitation programme encouraged patients to engage in activities that would support the transition back into the workplace.
The Head Occupational Therapist of the unit was an organised and proficient clinician manager.
She had high expectations of her team of junior OTs. She held a commanding presence and expected us all to uphold the standards of the centre without question.
Her scrupulous attention to detail and attitude towards professional conduct guide me still today, particularly the importance of clinical record keeping and not being afraid to voice your opinions openly, with sound and supportive clinical reasoning.
NHS managers often get bad press. Criticisms can be across the board, with implications that many bring little value to their organisation.
On the contrary, however, my next ‘mentor’ was the community rehabilitation team manager of South Wiltshire Primary Care Trust and a physiotherapist by profession who had the unenviable task of managing adult community rehabilitation and outpatient services.
She had a dynamic attitude to service provision, recognised the boundaries but was also unafraid to challenge and question the status quo.
I was a young and dynamic senior neuro OT and her approach resonated with me. Her energy as a leader fed my enthusiasm for the service and provided opportunities for growth and development.
Going against the opinion of the retiring Head OT, she promoted me early on in my career into the role of Head OT for the community neuro team.
Her management style bolstered my self-efficacy and my belief that, as an occupational therapist, I could make a difference.
I left the NHS in 2007; however, the influence of both managers, in my first job at Wessex Rehabilitation Centre and my last role as Head OT of the community neuro team, is enduring.
These experiences helped form my value and belief systems as a professional and continue to guide the growth and development of Krysalis today, some 24 years later.
Passion and potential
My experiences working as an independent neuro occupational therapist since 2006 have provided significant opportunities for continued personal growth and development from these early foundations.
I have met and worked closely alongside legal professionals and worked with clients for much longer than would have been possible within my NHS roles.
The development and evolution of Krysalis have been designed with our clients and our clinical and administration team at front and centre.
We believe passionately in people and work hard to create an environment where everyone can realise their own unique potential.
Our procedures and processes aid clinical decision making and maintain attention to detail, so everyone feels confident in their roles, even in the trickiest of situations.
These values and beliefs, grounded in my early experiences, continue to be upheld in my day-to-day work.
I am proud to say referrers and clients like what we do and how we do it. Because of that, our team of specialist neurological occupational therapists is continuing to grow.
If you are considering stepping into private practice as an occupational therapist with expertise in neurology, please do contact the Krysalis team.
Let us be the positive influence that supports you in your professional journey, as others have done for me.