Following a 14-year career break to raise my family I returned to the NHS in 2015 as a therapy assistant. Working as an assistant helped me to rebuild my confidence and skills and settle into the work-life balance of a working mum. I found the job to be really rewarding but it was the encouragement of my colleagues and manager that ultimately gave me the ‘push’ I needed to take the leap into ‘Return to practice’.
I received ongoing support from Trust's practice Education Facilitators as well as guidance from Health Education England’s Return to Practice programme who were also able to provide some support with funding.
As an Occupational Therapist who had been out of practice for more than 5 years it was necessary for me to complete 60 days of study, a combination of formal and informal learning and clinical placement. Whilst this could have been tackled in a self-directed manner, I chose to complete a 12 week, formal ‘Return to Practice Occupational Therapy’ course run by the University of Derby. This course was ideal for fitting around a busy lifestyle as it was predominantly self-directed learning through the completion of structured course modules covering a range of topics from theory and professional practice to career management and lifelong learning. Alongside the course I completed a 12-week clinical placement with the Community Rehab Team. My clinical mentor helped me to devise learning objectives and provided regular supervision, enabling me to upskill and ultimately work autonomously, managing my own caseload.
Approaching the end of my Return to Practice period I acknowledged I was keen to stay employed with East Cheshire Trust and was pleasantly surprised to hear of upcoming Occupational Therapy vacancies. I successfully interviewed and have been offered a position as a qualified Occupational Therapist working with the Intermediate Care Team on Aston Ward.
The support and encouragement I have received from colleagues, managers and the wider East Cheshire Trust has been excellent. I can wholeheartedly recommend East Cheshire Trust as a warm and welcoming employer and would urge anyone considering returning to professional practice to get started on their journey, with all the support offered it is easier than you think!