Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 24

Q&A with Brooke Campbell, 2021 Osteopathy Graduate

In Episode 24, Danielle chats with Brooke Campbell, a 2021 Osteopathy graduate working in Private Practice with a paediatrics focus.

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, Danielle chats with Brooke Campbell, a 2021 Victoria University osteopathy graduate who’s currently working in private practice. Brooke talks about her first three month stint as an osteo in Tasmania, as well as her current role in private practice in Melbourne. Danielle and Brooke highlight what a great time it is to be an osteo graduate, with so many opportunities available in private practice, aged care, community NDIS and occupational rehab. Enjoy.

Danielle Weedon Thanks for joining us today. Brooke Campbell, osteopath, graduated this year.

Brooke Campbell Yes. Thanks for having me.

Danielle Weedon That’s okay. Matthew Cooper from Osteopathy Australia obviously recommended you to have a chat with for our graduate osteo community to have a listen to your experience as a, you know in your first year since graduation.

Brooke Campbell Yeah. Thanks, Matt by the way!

Danielle Weedon Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and when you graduated and what you’re currently working as/in?

Brooke Campbell Yeah. So I was very lucky to graduate on time in June this year, having obviously COVID for the last one and a half years of the end of the degree. So that was a bit hectic and I went… as soon as I got my registration through, I was off to Tassie for a three month locum position over there. So I’ve only just been back for over a month and now I’m based out in Frankston, working part time there.

Danielle Weedon Great, and you’re working in private practice and a little bit of paeds. Is that right?

Brooke Campbell Yeah, it’s private practice and within that practice there is a strong paeds focus, so I’m lucky to be getting some mentoring within the paeds and kind of women’s health field as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, excellent. And in your locum that you did down in Tassie, what specialist field was it?

Brooke Campbell It was just general in private practice, but because in Tassie I was in quite a rural setting. It was very like heavy medical based as well. So a lot of more health management as well. Like patients couldn’t book into GPs for three weeks in advance. So often I would see patients for their general musculoskeletal complaints, but also trying to help push them along whatever health issues they’re facing as well, and sometimes being that catalyst of trying to get people to go to their GPs. I found in Tassie people were a lot more hesitant and put things off and especially lots of farmers as well – very hard working, didn’t want to put the time in to look after their health, so it was very like, a big, interesting mix as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, great. Also, when I spoke to Matthew last week, he was saying that, and I hadn’t thought about this before, but that osteopaths are very Victorian central, given most of the unis are here. So that must have been a great experience trekking to Tassie for three months for some work.

Brooke Campbell Well, it was great and it kind of opens your eyes to how many osteopaths there are in Victoria. Then you go out to Tassie and there’s a huge demand. Like where I was working, they built up that awesome reputation. Everyone knew about the osteos in the area and really wanted to go and see them, and I was quite surprised by that. I thought we might be a little less known, but that was actually quite surprising. But it was great because you have that huge demand if there’s that reputation and lots of people really want to come and see you. And as a new grad, that was such an awesome experience to be busy from the get go when you’re dealing with more things than I probably would have ever expected. But people being run over by cows and sheep. I would never have thought I’d be treating things like that!

Danielle Weedon Yeah, yeah, so interesting, the population you were treating. And so generally, then for the next question, what was your experience like as a graduate?

Brooke Campbell Oh, it was a whirlwind. It happened so fast. The last semester of uni went in a blink of an eye really. And I guess because I decided to go to Tassie and do locum, there was a lot of that pressure of like really getting you reg – I had my registration through as soon as I could do it, at the start of the year. But chasing that up, getting your Medicare provider number and then for me, also packing up my life into my car to move interstate for three months in the middle of a pandemic, I’m not sure who’s crazy enough to actually do that, but I did it. It was awesome. It was very fast paced. I thought I would have more of a rest than I actually did, but I quite enjoyed that and I like getting thrown in the deep end. So it was definitely a challenge and lots and lots of learning on the go.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, steep learning curve after being, after going through uni. Many years ago, I went through physio but I do remember thinking, Wow, I’m actually a qualified physio now. I need to step up.

Brooke Campbell Yeah, and learning how to use the systems. Like some clinics have different systems. How to set yourself up on a HICAPS machine. How to do your own books if you’re contracting. Yeah, you don’t get taught that at uni, so that’s a lot to learn as well as managing your own patients for the first time as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And what was your experience like finding a job – the Tassie job, but also your private practice role now?

Brooke Campbell Yeah, it was a bit up and down. I had actually secured employment at the start of the semester and then I decided not to follow through with that. So I started the last semester of uni thinking I’d have everything sorted and then it was coming to the end of uni and I hadn’t actually had a job secured. And I guess there’s that panic, like all my friends are all getting jobs. I don’t have a job lined up, but also I’ve got to study for my final exams. So I’d actually reached out to a few of my mentors as I knew I wanted to get in the women’s health/paeds field, but I was a bit stuck as to how to start that process. So I actually booked in appointments with some of the uni clinicians to go and chat to them while also getting treatment. And they kind of helped direct me, like which clinics I should approach and might be suitable for me and my goals and my learning. So I kind of was doing that and reaching out, and then I saw the Tassie job posting. For osteopaths, most of our jobs are advertised on a Facebook group. So that’s how we kind of see our jobs. So I kind of sent off an email for that, not really thinking it would go anywhere. And funnily enough, I heard back and I had, I did an interview and got it. And then two days later, I had an interview for my job that I’m at now, and I had to break the news to them that I was going to Tassie for three months. And luckily enough, they were happy to wait for me to come back from Tassie and start with them. So it felt slow, and then it all just fell into place over the space of like three days.

Danielle Weedon That’s great. I think it’s a really good point, though networking within your, well one within your profession, of course, but you know, any connections you’ve got through uni placements or, you know, other osteos you know, it’s a pretty small world, so it’s always worth asking the questions of your network.

Brooke Campbell It’s really great. I remember I applied for a job in New South Wales because I was kind of having an interstate move on the cards and it worked out not being suitable or they didn’t have a role actually ready for me. But they said, let’s keep base, like keep contact and in six months time we’ll see if we’re ready to add another osteo on. And they still remembered me and still called me up afterwards. And just having that general connections and they, you know, they still want to know how your career is going, what you’re up to, where you’re working. And even those relationships have their own connections that people are quite happy to push you along the way and give you some points to reach out to, even if it’s just for some mentoring or observations. So it’s really helpful and it’s really supportive, which I love about the osteo community as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And what did you find helpful when securing employment?

Brooke Campbell Oh, so many things. I guess as students you get a bit scared and you just send emails out with your resume attached. But I actually found it really helpful to call the clinics and chat to them and see if they’re offering any job opportunities. And then that way you kind of touch base with them and they know who you are by calling. So you get that rapport, I guess, as well. And I found that helpful as you often get to speak to the director or somebody there. And even then, if they’re not offering something, at least they know who you are. If they like to organise just a chat to get to know you and then kind of keep you in mind for things that might pop up in future as well. And I did a lot of research on the clinic, so seeing what their values were like, the areas that the other osteopaths were kind of interested in, seeing if that was [?] to the kind of work that I was looking for as well. And, you know, checking if they’ve got booking online, checking the other osteos’ availabilities to kind of see what hours they work and things like that.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. Research is definitely the key, isn’t it? And like you said, making sure that you know an organisation is a good cultural fit for you and what their values are and what sort of, especially as a grad, what sort of supports and supervision they’re going to be able to offer you? Yes, in your grad year especially.

Brooke Campbell I think I went like full stalker mode a few times on the Facebook pages and checking how often they were also advertising for osteopaths. So seeing if they were having a high turnover of staff as well and just looking for a few red flag things, I guess, but it also could be a good thing that they are busy and those staff have stayed on as well. So that’s a good thing to check out as a new grad too.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, I agree. I agree. And what advice would you offer a new grad in terms of securing employment?

Brooke Campbell Oooh… I think don’t jump on the very first thing that you get offered because you’re all excited that you’ve got a job offer and then you might realise a little bit later on that it’s not the right fit for you, or maybe the location wasn’t the most suitable for you and you were happy to compromise that. But then later on, you realised it was too far. Or maybe something changes in the clinic that doesn’t suit you – don’t feel pressured to stay on. Or, you know, you can still search for other things and don’t hesitate to, you know, if you want to work part time, but they’re really pushing full time, make sure you keep those boundaries firm and know what you want to do as well. Because I think often as new grads, we just think that, you know, we’re at the bottom of the pond and we’ve just got to grab for whatever we can get in a frenzy. But realistically, it’s your career that you want to have, so you know, you don’t settle for anything less, is pretty much what I would say. And, you know, really assess all your options and make sure that it’s really a good fit for you.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, Brooke, we have been in the health recruitment for 20 years now, and it’s never been a better time to be an allied health professional. There’s so many jobs, with the osteo niche as well. And I spoke to Matt Cooper about this. We’re noticing, you know, traditionally osteos would graduate and go straight into private practice. But there are so many options even in aged care now for osteos, and osteos can now work in occ rehab and sort of that return to work sector. So I would completely agree. In terms of being a grad, don’t, you know… weigh up all your options, know what your non-negotiables are and don’t go, you know, never be pressured to make a decision straight away on a job offer, especially if it doesn’t feel right of course.

Brooke Campbell Exactly. I’m in the early careers advisory group as part of OA and we discuss like the nursing homes and all of those kind of things there. New job opportunities that have only recently just opened up to osteopaths as well. So it’s a really exciting time to be a new grad and getting in the rehab field, working with health insurance, teaching all that kind of stuff so you don’t have to go into private practice, like there’s plenty of different avenues. Which is really awesome to see how it goes, but it also means there’s a lot of jobs because it’s not private practice now. And if people are dispersing around, private practice is in that demand as well. But also regional’s always looking for people, so. And that’s a great place to go as a new grad because you’ll be busy very, very quick.

Danielle Weedon Very quickly. And like you said, when you went to Tassie, you just exposed to a different, likely a highly different caseload than you would be in a private practice in a metropolitan area.

Brooke Campbell Yeah, it’s…and I definitely recommend it. Even if you just do a locum stint for short term, it’s good to kind of have under your belt. And as a new grad, you’re not locked into a clinic where you might have to take time off or leave just to be able to do a locum stint as well. So you got that fresh start to go out and do pretty much whatever you want.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, good tip. And how would you describe your transition to practice and what were your first few months as an osteo like?

Brooke Campbell Very, very independent. I did an internship in my last year of uni, which was in a regional setting, and that was a great learning experience, and I think that definitely helped set me up to go out on a locum position. I had mentoring, but not a lot. It was there if I needed to, and I kind of reached out if I needed it, so it helped set me up in that way. But not everyone’s fortunate enough to do that. So my transition was very independent and learning on my own and really having that confidence and backing yourself with what you’re doing. And yeah, just it was fast paced. It was really quick. So that was my experience. But not everybody was the same. I know I had friends in my year level; they were waiting for ages for their provider number and Medicare, and being in Melbourne lockdown, so you couldn’t treat patients unless it was emergency, which there wasn’t a lot of that. So my experience was very, very different to theirs. And then coming back home now was a slow start at first. But heading into silly season, it’s picked up straight away. So it’s been that real rollercoaster, really. It’s interesting,

Danielle Weedon I think, and like you said, being Melbourne based or studying in Melbourne as well, it’s really, I mean, everyone’s had their challenges here in Melbourne for the last almost two years now, but I can’t imagine graduating and trying to fit in your final placements. And, you know, at least health has always been in demand, but like you said, just lockdown and that – massive challenges.

Brooke Campbell Yeah, it’s huge. And I think as a VU graduate, we’re quite lucky that we finish in the middle of this so we don’t finish at the same time as other unis in terms of clogging up AHPRA and the Medicare provider numbers. So that kind of gives us a leg up, not having to wait as long as you probably would at end of year.

Danielle Weedon But that’s a good point, actually, because AHPRA is really busy at the minute aren’t they, with all of the grads going through getting registered. So yeah. And what were your challenges in transition to practice?

Brooke Campbell Oh, there was definitely a few points where I was on my own in the clinic and I’m trying to process payments or submit an invoice through Cliniko, and I had absolutely no idea how to do that and just learning to have to put things to a side and come back to them later, or quickly calling your boss to figure out how to do something.

Danielle Weedon That’s interesting. So systems in a way, more than the clinical side of it, would you say?

Brooke Campbell Yeah, that was definitely challenging. As well as the caseload of patients was quite heavy, lots of chronic pain and lots of other co-morbidities that I wasn’t quite sure how to manage or as an osteo getting too involved in the medical side of things and having to learn how to step back and just stay within your osteo lane and not get too much in the nitty gritty of the medical stuff. And I often get quite frustrated if patients aren’t getting the medical help that they need or they don’t get sent for a test or, you know, they get sent for one and that comes back clear and it’s not further investigated. I get quite frustrated with that. So having to learn how to take that on, I guess, and what the next steps are and not getting too caught up in it all is huge.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And what in dealing with the challenges of, that you’ve just mentioned, how did you manage these?

Brooke Campbell Lots of talking to mentors about it. Really empowering the patient is huge, letting them know their options and getting a second opinion, third opinion, fourth opinion if they have to, and especially in the Tassie setting. If they were struggling to get further investigations or just seeing the local GP, the next trip would be an hour trip into Launceston, which a lot of people couldn’t do. So it’s just working with them and how much they really value in getting answers as well. And as a practitioner, if somebody doesn’t want to take things further, you’ll have, you know, you go to learn to be okay with that. And at the end of the day, we can’t control them, but we can only encourage them to do what’s best for themselves and their health as well. So that was hard for someone who is a perfectionist, letting things go, because if it was me, I know I would, I would pursue things. But for some people, that’s not as high on their priority list. And as long as you know, it’s nothing red flag condition related and you know, that’s what they want to do. Sometimes that’s what you’ve just got to support them with as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And what was your most helpful, what was most helpful in your transition to practice, would you say?

Brooke Campbell Oh, my accountant. In terms of bookkeeping and things, yeah, I had no idea. Poor lady. Yeah. Other than the accounting stuff, just my uni notes as well. Going back to the basics, I always was prepared, like looking ahead for the day, who was coming in, looking what we did their last session, things I’ve got to follow up, just being really organised. And that definitely helps with getting your patients back in and building that relationship with them. And time management is huge. So if you’ve got good time management skills, you won’t be staying back half an hour to do your notes. And just getting in the routine of things as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And I think you’ve mentioned already, but all of your, you know, any other osteos you know, or your network of clinicians and mentors, just reaching out to them. I mean, most of the stuff now is, you know, so much telehealth and virtual, you know, virtual connection that I do think reaching out to, you know, more experienced clinicians or, you know, all your networks, just especially in a private practice setting where you do work fairly autonomously. It’s really important to utilise those networks.

Brooke Campbell Definitely. And I guess, me being in Tassie away from all my friends, family and connections. So I really had to utilise whatever I could get my hands on to, even if it was a phone call, a zoom, an email, you just got to take whatever support you can get your hands on to really, in whatever form. Doesn’t matter, you’re a new grad, so just be open to learning and open to anything from anyone, really.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, I agree. And also, I don’t think, you know, your clients or your patients mind if you say, Look, I haven’t managed, you know, I haven’t managed this before. Let me go away and find out about it and I’ll come back to you. I think speaking to a few of the other grads that we have on on this season of the podcast, their main thing was it’s okay to say that you don’t know everything just yet in your grad year. Go away and find it out and learn and come back. And I think, I think that’s a good point to make also.

Brooke Campbell Yes, I definitely had a patient that I hadn’t gotten a heads up with, and it was a condition I had no idea about. And it was, I wasn’t organised, so it was too close to me for to quickly do a Google search. It was just for like ear, crystals in the ear. So I just went to the osteo basics, so holistic, looking at the neck, the jaw, the facial muscles, all of that kind of stuff, and it somehow really worked for her. So, you know, fake it till you make it as well. And then did my research afterwards and made sure I was on the right track with everything. Then it turned out to be really good for her. And they don’t mind that either. They think that they’re getting more hands on them, more opinions. And they really appreciate that, if you’re going out of your way and you say, Look, I’m going to find the most up-to-date evidence on this and they really appreciate the effort from you as well.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, yeah, exactly. And what about, what about a memorable moment or what’s one of your most memorable moments since you graduated?

Brooke Campbell I had a lady who she was still working in, and she was, you know, past retirement age. So she was still hustling really hard and she had a work injury. And I kind of helped push her to realise that she had been neglecting her health pretty much her whole life and just being able to help motivate her and empower her to look after her health a bit more. And she actually decided that it was time to retire and enough was enough. And now she is going to put some time and effort into herself. And she thanked me for helping her just reaching that decision and being so kind to her and teaching her about her body and her health. And that, for me, was really great. And of course, you get everything else from just helping people reach their goals through osteopathy and that education and awareness. But I think that was quite touching for me being a new grad and having such a positive impact on someone’s life, who had done a lot and worked very, very hard for herself. Yeah, that was really nice.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, yeah. And any other broad advice for grads?

Brooke Campbell Probably. I said it before, and I think regional/rural is just great. And just do as much as you can. I was out doing obs up until like week 10, week 12 of my final semester of uni. So, you know, really just throw yourself into it and learn as much as you can while you’re a student and while you’re out in the field, I think it’s great and don’t be afraid to do CPD and things that might be a little bit left to what you think, because that ends up being the things that you end up enjoying the most or you learn the most about, which is actually really interesting. So just be like a sponge and absorb everything.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, thanks for your time again. It is a really good time to be an osteo grad. There’s so many different options than there used to be and they’re good tips about going regional, if you can, and networking. And you know, the peer advice, peer support.

Brooke Campbell Definitely. Thanks for having me as well.

Danielle Weedon Thank you.

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.