Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 17

Australian Physiotherapy Association – Leanne Kerr

In Episode 17, Danielle chats with Leanne Kerr, General Manager Membership and Development at the Australia Physiotherapy Association. Leanne covers all the benefits for student, graduate, early and late career Physiotherapists in joining your professional body.

Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health Podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist, and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.

Clare Jones In this episode of Allied Health Podcast, Danielle talks with Leanne Kerr, General Manager, Membership and Development at the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Leanne covers all the benefits for student graduate, early and late career physiotherapists in joining the APA and how the APA can help their members in their career growth.

Danielle Weedon Today, I’m joined by Leanne Kerr, General Manager, Membership and Development at the Australian Physiotherapy Association. We’re hoping you can provide some information on the APA, its benefits and any other pointers regarding your membership organisation. So thanks for joining us, Leanne.

Leanne Kerr And thanks for inviting me, Danielle.

Danielle Weedon Pleasure. So let’s start with broadly, what is the APA?

Leanne Kerr Yeah, three little letters, but it means a lot. So APA is, as you’ve [?] the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and what we really are, we’re the peak body and we represent the interests of all Australian physios and their patients. So in a nutshell, you can say that we’re committed to professional excellence and career success for our members, which really translates into those better patient outcomes for improved health conditions for all Australians. In simple terms, our purpose is really to, I guess we want to deliver true value to our members and drive the advancement of the profession, which is very close to the heart of all of the profession. And we are really aiming to be an integral part of our members’ professional lives, and we do this through many different ways. I can really keep going, if you’re happy for me…

Danielle Weedon Oh excellent, if you’re happy to keep talking that’s good. I was going to say, what are some of the benefits of joining?

Leanne Kerr All right, I’ll get to those.

Danielle Weedon Yes, okay, cool.

Leanne Kerr I’ll just finish off the story of the APA. So we’re there for members, but we also are to educate consumers on the breadth and the value of physiotherapy. It’s a bit of an undersold or undervalued or misunderstood profession at times. So our role really is out there to help motivate consumers to choose physio first. Policy making – we’re right in there with government, the Chief Allied Health Officers, sorry, the Chief Health Officers, to influence policy that has the benefit for our members and whether that’s access to physio or scope of physio, or diversification of funding for physios or even working at workforce planning. We’re right there working with the government to try and influence their agendas and what happens for our members and the broader community. And so I’ll go to the benefits now, I think. And I guess we members are with us right through from being a student and we have them right through to the ripe old senior years of retirement, and they still stay with us for that community spirit that they have with the APA. So as a student, we really encourage students to join us while they’re studying, to start getting themselves immersed really in the world of physiotherapy, to see, read hear and listen to what is going on in the profession that they’re planning on moving into. So students really can demonstrate their commitment to the high professional standards that they want and show their passion to their profession to prospective employees by connecting with the APA early, if it resonates well with employees and they feel good about it. So the early alignment with the peak professional body really adds integrity to their CV and their career aspirations. When students join, there’s a lot they can access, there’s no fee for students to join, but they can have immediate online access to substantial research resources. And we know research really is a core backbone of physio. Our online member magazine is digital. They can look through those magazines and back issues of the magazines and search for articles of interest there. They get our public indemnity insurance coverage while they’re studying as well. That’s complimentary with their student membership. They get invitations to join student job shows. They can join student committees. We run free PD events dedicated to students, networking events, information sessions. We have a jobs for physio website that they can start scouring when they’re starting to think about what their first job might look like coming out of their studies. There’s the good old traditional partner benefits, offers and discounts through a lot of partners that we bring to the table. And then there’s all of our Facebook groups that they can join. We have student Facebook groups and other types of Facebook groups going on out there that they can start linking into. A lot observe – they’re listeners or readers rather than contributors. That’s OK. They’re there to learn and see what’s going on and hear conversations from other professional physios. That’s really where a student can start with us.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, OK. And then, moving on as a sort of as a graduate member is there, what’s the, what would be the difference?

Leanne Kerr So everything that they’ve had as a student, they still carry on with them, as a member, as a graduate member. We call…when members join us as a graduate, we, I guess, classify them as a graduate for the first four years of their career. That may not be how they are seen out in the industry. An employee might see a graduate as only a graduate in their first one or two years, but we treat them, or give them preferred pricing, at least as a graduate for four years. That’s before they’re moved into Big Kids Club, so to speak. But they can start to supplement their knowledge now. They can start coming to APA professional development courses and do the hands on training with us. They can start carrying the APA post nominal, which is APAM, shows that they’re a member of the APA, again, attractive when they’re looking for employment. Some private practices mandate that they are a member of the APA before they start working with them. So getting PD, we know, is very highly valued by grads. Once they’ve come out and they’ve done their degree studies, layering that with further PD we know is very popular from grad students. Again, the public indemnity insurance that’s built into their membership so they don’t have to worry about, is it the right one? Am I covered adequately? Does it meet AHPRA guidelines? Our policies, we’ve done all the heavy lifting there and the APA have a policy that they come in [?] They get more clinical resources online, then a whole research portal for them to get into. They get newsletters. They can join more Facebook groups. They can register themselves once they’ve actually got a job and they want to, they want clients or potential patients to find them. We have a Find a Physio website that they can have their physio and themself listed on there, so they can be found. And yeah, they have everything that they had as a student.

Danielle Weedon That’s great. And we do often get asked questions about professional indemnity insurance and especially early career therapists, you know, asking the question, Do I need it or not? And I’m not an insurance professional, but I think that’s great that it’s built into the membership because the advice is always that I hear is, yes, your employer might have professional indemnity insurance, but you also should take out your own. So that’s a great perk.

Leanne Kerr So the employer has their entity insurance cover, which doesn’t cascade to the individual. I actually think it’s an AHPRA mandate that each registered physiotherapist needs to have their own indemnity insurance.

Danielle Weedon PI insurance, yeah, that’s interesting. And also in terms of the courses and things that you provide, I think coming out as a grad, you can often, you know, you might go into private practice or you might go into community therapy, but being able to access courses and further learning and the rest of it means that early career therapists may not be pigeonholed into one particular sort of niche, or clinical speciality, and they can access other areas that they might want to sort of upskill in as well.

Leanne Kerr I think we’ve seen with graduates, at least in their first four years, are still, are still window shopping for where they want to land. Nobody knows their first year in the workforce where they’re going to land long term. So knowing that there’s this movement between public and private, and aged care, like there’s room for the grads to move around and just knowing that they’ve got their insurance in their back pocket, no matter where they go, is a very reassuring thing. And then the insurance that we have, it’s a master insurance policy that provides, I’ll call it exceptional coverage policies through QBE. And we have brokers here in Melbourne actually they’re global brokers, but they’re there to manage the end to end process, should anybody have a notification or claim against them. It’s our insurance brokers handle them from end to end to handle that claim and legal advice, etc. So it’s very, very sound and comforting policy for them to have and because we have such a collective power of all our members in it. We’re obviously getting a preferred bulk buying rate, which honestly gets passed straight through to reduced rates with all of our members. So it’s a good thing to have and it exceeds the AHPRA. AHPRA do specify what minimum requirements of coverage need to be and this exceeds it.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. Great. You have touched on CPD and courses and training, but have you got any other sort of information on…

Leanne Kerr Yeah, I think the thing that’s probably appealing more to grads is when they start really wanting to look around to where, might I wanted to branch out and do I want to concentrate in the paediatric space, or am I interested in emergency department? Do I want to work… If they start getting a taste or flavour or an interest in going down a certain stream, we have a whole group of special interest groups, which we call national groups, and members can join these special interest groups. So then you get access to more, I guess, bespoke or customised professional development in that stream. And it’s a network of people who are all passionate about the same kind of area and there’s networks, there’s committees people can join days, there’s specialised newsletters that go out to the groups, which just has information pertinent to that, that stream or that interest area. So that’s another way that members really in any stage of their career, but we do find early career graduates start looking into these different groups, you know, maybe year three in their work profession and just explore if it’s an area that they do want to keep probing I guess.

Danielle Weedon Yep. Keep learning.

Leanne Kerr Yeah, yeah, it’s ongoing learning. So networking, I guess, is another thing. It’s a word that does go around and networking. You get as much out of it as what you want to put into it. So in these days, it’s sadly, it’s all online channels of networking. But when we do have events going back face to face, if that’s the preferred way, there’s plenty of events and seminars and our annual conferences that members can go to to start finding and seeking out other people’s chat. We do know physios do love to chat, well our members do, that’s for sure. They can join committees and they can join these national groups. That’s all elements of networking and the Facebook groups as well, it’s another way to listen, learn networking and reach out to people, so there’s quite a few places there that they can seek people out.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And you know, Leanne, I know I’m a physio by background many years ago, but I do think traditionally health professionals are not, they’re not used to networking in a salesy way because their profession is giving back. You know, it’s health and it’s giving back. But we always talk to therapists and say, you know, it’s a really small allied health world. So with, you know, within physio, networking within, you know, within exactly what you’ve talked about, the specialist groups, if you’re an APA member, that might in future help you get a job. But it also might actually help you work out where you want to be in your career. You might meet, you know, it’s just I think networking within your profession is just is gold in terms of learning and upskilling.

Leanne Kerr Spot on. Spot on, my friend, yes.

Danielle Weedon And what about, how can APA help members in their career growth?

Leanne Kerr A good question, yes. I think we’ve got a few solutions, really, that we can help members with in the early career stage. We are, we’re in the process right now of developing a mentoring programme and that will be up for our members, available for our members next year. So mentoring is going to help them try and work out where they want to be as well, or if they’re mentoring, they can really get whatever they want out of what we can set up for them. So we will be connecting experienced members with first and second year grads to help them start formulating in their mind where they want to go and how do they get from year one to year two and what does year five look like, and what do I need to do? How do I explore things? I definitely want to open my own practice in five years. How do I get there? So mentoring has been a gap for us. We know our members want it. We’ve just recently surveyed our all of our grads to say, you know, if mentoring had been around or existed when in your career span or career continuum, would mentoring have been of greatest value to you? And it was overwhelmingly most grads was saying in their first year. Some still in their second year. But we definitely know where the sweet spot is, that once they’ve left their studies and are in their first year as a grad, that’s when they need that, that guiding light. So we’ve heard it. We surveyed, we researched it, we’re looking into it, and that’s what we’ll be bringing to our members next year. So that is where we see we can add value to early career starters and start shaping what their career might look like. Mid-career, it’s really our PD, our professional development offering really sits in that space where they’re still developing and maturing and starting to move into higher levels of clinical practice. And that’s through your online learning, face to face learning and our conferences, we hope. And then later in the career, I think when members are more established but they want to perhaps just move to that next level of specialisation or specialist recognition. We have the Australian College of Physiotherapists, which members can join that college and undertake, I think it’s a few years actually, of study or evidence of prior work to be assessed, and that will lead them on to becoming a clinical specialist in a chosen area. There’s a few, there’s a career pathway that already exists, but it really helps if you know, so when you’ve chosen where you want to go and you really want to excel at it, we do have that career pathway for you to move into genuine specialisation in clinical area.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And I’m sorry…

Leanne Kerr That’s OK. Go!

Danielle Weedon Yes, so I’m saying, so if a physio, student or early career or a physio late career wanted to get in touch, what…do they just pick up the phone to you guys or…

Leanne Kerr Yeah, we’re accessible. I look after our member support team. They’re a great team. They’re, you know, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. They can help, they can guide, they can get you in touch with whoever you need to. But simply calling us is the first step to take.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. Excellent. Thank you. And is there anything else?

Leanne Kerr No, I think hopefully I’ve given you a good round up of the world of the APA and how it helps students.

Danielle Weedon Thanks again, Leanne, for taking the time to speak with us today. I’m sure our listeners will have enjoyed this additional information about the APA and the benefits of joining as a professional member.

Speaker We hope you enjoyed listening to the Allied Health Podcast. In the show’s notes, you’ll find links to our free recruitment resources, job opportunities and health care marketplace insights. To listen to new episodes, please subscribe via Apple, Google or wherever you find your favourite podcasts, and if you’ve enjoyed the show, please give it a five star rating and review. And be sure to tell your therapy colleagues and friends to tune in.