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 Welcome to Episode 3 of Allied Health Podcast. In this episode, Danielle is joined by Daniela Radosevic, who is a graduate speech pathologist working in community NDIS. Daniela shares her experience of securing a graduate role, transitioning to professional practice and working as a graduate.
Danielle Weedon I’m here with Daniela Radosevic, who I met late in 2020 as you, Daniela, were graduating from a Masters of Speech and Language Pathology degree. Thanks for joining us.
Daniela Radosevic Thanks for having me, Danielle.
Danielle Weedon Really broadly, can you tell me a bit about yourself: when you graduated and a bit about your current role?
Daniela Radosevic Yes, absolutely. So I graduated at the beginning of this year from Sydney University, though I lived in Newcastle. I studied in my undergrad Bachelor of Psychology. Kind of got to the end of that and just thought, “Ooh, not quite my thing”. And I fell into speech pathology, thankfully, and my role at the moment – I’m an associate speech pathologist at Physio Inq.
Danielle Weedon Excellent. And you’re working in the community, in a community and community disability caseload. Is that right?
Daniela Radosevic That’s right. So I started off doing adults and paeds, and I found that I really have a calling for working with children. It was really nice to have the opportunity to work with both, and I still have a few adult clients that I love working with. But I had the opportunity to kind of specialise and choose something that I really just am passionate about working in. So I’ve kind of moved towards that at the moment.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, that’s great. So you have a majority paediatric caseload, is that right?
Daniela Radosevic I do, yeah.
Danielle Weedon Excellent! And in terms of working in a community therapy role, obviously, now that you’re specialising in paediatrics, it’s different again. But across the spectrum of adults and paediatrics, the caseload is pretty broad and quite challenging. Would that be correct to say?
Daniela Radosevic Absolutely. So I think when I first started, I don’t actually have any clients that really are the same. I’ve only got maybe one or two that are sort of… I’m working with the same kind of thing, but I’m gosh, what am I not doing, sort of a thing? I do swallowing, I do language. I do AAC. I’m using high tech and low tech devices. I’ve got hearing loss in Queensland. I’ve actually got a friend from university who just started with the company because she wanted to broaden her horizons and have a lot of experience with different things. And I think she’s really, really getting that now.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, excellent. And how have you – going a little bit off script with a few of the questions I asked… But how have you managed with as a graduate, the autonomy and working things like working to billable hours.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah. So I really wanted the autonomy to be – that was my number one thing when I was looking for a job, I could never see myself working in a clinic role. And I like, I like being really independent. That being said, you still want to have a really supportive team who you can go to at any, any time to ask questions. I mean, you’re not just learning about, you know, just learning about your profession, but you’re learning about the NDIS, which is absolutely – it’s a mammoth. We had learnt about it a little bit in university, but it did not prepare me for how confusing it can be. And you’ve got clients asking you questions all the time and you want to be able to be responsive, but you don’t know. So I think having a really supportive team is really, really important as well.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, yep, yep. And I think from lots of feedback we get from grads and early career therapists, is because the nature and the autonomy, which can be a real benefit of a role, but because of the nature of the role, it really is important to have a good team that provide you with definitely things like clinical supervision and those supports. But even the sort of regular check ins, given that you are working your days and weeks as you want to.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah, and the billable hours. So I think most of the places that I applied for when I was looking at the contract had some sort of billable hours. Sort of it was already in there. But I liked – it’s really interesting. People should really look at those billable hours. I think it’s really easily overlooked. Some places had… So I have about 20 hours billable, but some places the expectation was 25 to 30 in the first year, which I think is a lot. Just for me personally, like I’m hitting about 25 now, 6 months in. But that’s a really that’s just comfortable, just right. And I wouldn’t do any more than that. And my billable hours don’t actually change the next year. So it’s 20 hours as long as I’m with the company. Some of the places, there’s an expectation that you get to the first year and then there’s an additional five. So, I think it’s really important to read that contract all the way through. And just think about how many hours you will actually be having to work.
Danielle Weedon Yes, I agree, and even talking to different organisations and I know it’s NDIS specific, but even in private practice, you know, working out what you are able to bill for and those types of things. And you know how long and assess how long an assessment may actually take versus how long you can bill for it. And those sorts of sort of details, I suppose, that’s important as well to find out.
Daniela Radosevic Definitely. Definitely.
Danielle Weedon So broadly as a grad, how would you describe your first six months of clinical practice compared to university and compared to your clinics that you might or placements that you did?
Daniela Radosevic It’s, what’s the word, I’m so relieved. Yeah. So you get such a broad spectrum of options during those clinical placements. And I didn’t really like hospitals. I didn’t really like clinics. I thought, Oh gosh, am I in the right profession? And it wasn’t until I had my community role that I thought and I and it got cancelled. It was during COVID, so I did four days of it. But on the second day I was like, Yes, this is exactly where I’m meant to be.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, you knew it was for you. That’s interesting.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah, definitely. And I’m just, I’m just so thankful that I had that experience. Even though it was only four days, I didn’t have any more community practice. But yeah, this first six months have been interesting. I would say the first three months were very intense, lots of studying on my weekends and couple of hours in the evening. And I never [?] as work life balance, but it’s just, it was just something that I knew was – I needed it to happen. And now I’ve come through that and I feel a lot more confident. In the beginning, you really feel like you don’t know anything, and you really surprise yourself with how flexible you can be. I think a lot of the grads have probably gone through a really similar thing in terms of having placements cancelled. So just be really kind to yourself, I think, and you, I think being flexible is an amazing skill and it’s something that the company can’t really teach you, it just kind of comes with experience. So I would mention that in your interview.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, yeah, I agree. And also, I mean, the last 18 months, the world really has shown us that flexibility and having an open mindset to things changing quite quickly is very important. But even I spoke to another graduate the other day, and she’d had, last year she’d had her sights set on a placement over in Vietnam. One of her placements was going to be an overseas placement, and she was devastated that it didn’t happen. But then she’s ended up finding a paediatric private practice that she really loved, which she maybe wouldn’t have done anyway. So it’s that concept of, you know, yeah, being flexible and working with the positives of things that, you know, that come your way.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah, exactly.
Danielle Weedon And so what was it like finding a job for you?
Daniela Radosevic Good question. So it wasn’t… there were a lot of options up in Newcastle. And it’s interesting because the process can be very different. You can have internal recruiters, so they are part of the business and there’s always different stages. It can be a little bit confusing. I think, you know, you get the first approval. “Yes, I got a job!” And then you wonder, but is there more out there? Is this the right thing? And then I got actually, I applied for a place that I didn’t even think that, but it had some, not recommendations, but some skill set that I just didn’t think that I had. This is for my current job and I contacted, I happened to contact you. It was really fortunate and you said, just let’s just give it a go. So and that all worked out really, really well. I loved them. There was a lot of honesty, you know, I was told that it was going to be a hard, hard position, but if you really, really like it, go for it. I think that if you see a job out there that you don’t think you’re qualified for, I think still apply. Because it’s not just about what you’ve learnt on placement, but it’s about your experiences as a person. You might find that you actually can bring so much more to a job, and all that stuff can be learnt. Like, you learn that in your first year.
Danielle Weedon And I agree it’s really important to find and I know that employers want this as well. But it’s so important to find the right – without sounding corny – the right cultural fit with an organisation. And well, often you really can’t know that exactly until you start in a role. But you know, more and more employers are having initial phone conversations with an interested therapist before moving to more formal interviews, so you can actually work out if you do seem to align. You might have that cultural fit and that’s more and more the way it’s going.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah, I’d take it like dating. Like, did you get a good feel? What did your gut say? That was my top. That was my top priority, like my top value when I was going, when I was looking for a job. I wanted culture. I wanted a place that I feel like I belong. In my interview with Irene, she made me laugh and we were able to joke about Friday night and the weekend, and I just felt like it was a good fit for me.
Danielle Weedon It was going to fit.
Daniela Radosevic Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think, I think it’s with the person who has created the company. Then they’ve created – you know, they picked all the right people. They’ve created a culture. And if you feel like that, you get along with that person in the interview, it’ll really amaze you how it’ll… It’ll amaze you to find the rest of the people that they’ve hired, like the more people I find that I work with, I’m just really happy working with them. I really enjoy my team. I don’t actually have anyone near me. Everyone is in Sydney, but I still feel connected and I do get to see them once a month. Well, not at the moment, but we were meeting up once a month in the city, so that was really, really fun.
Danielle Weedon Yeah. Yep, yep. Excellent. And what – is there anything, oh, I don’t know if you’ll need to answer this question. But what did you find helpful when securing employment?
Daniela Radosevic Actually after securing it? I think just being myself. Sometimes you want to portray your best self. Which you obviously still want to portray your best self, but I think just being being yourself and just staying calm and staying relaxed. I think things will come. And I think there’s also there are just so many – there’s so much work out there. I think it’s narrowing it down and finding what calls to you and what feels right to you.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, yep. Yep. And also, it helps when a future employer is very honest, which I know Irene is, about the nature of a role and saying, You know, for you as a grad, this might be a challenging role because it is, you know, the challenges of community disability. You’re not going into a role with, you know, with expectations that aren’t aligned with maybe how the role might happen, you know?
Daniela Radosevic So much so, so much so. And I really appreciate that honesty. I think if you have expectations the other way, I think it can really dampen your first few months and just your experience if you expected it, to be super easy. And I think it just makes it harder than what it should be. And if it’s, and if you expect it to be really hot and it’s not as hard, then that’s even better.
Danielle Weedon It’s even better. I completely agree. And you know, it’s so important in that first year of practice that it really can make or break you by, you know, by having the right organisation and starting a role on a pretty honest level of what the role is going to entail. That’s really important. Yeah. So what – we’ve probably covered this, but are there any other sort of any other piece of advice that you’d offer a new graduate in terms of securing employment? Would you go, would you say go broad or only apply for a few roles? How would you…?
Daniela Radosevic I would say maybe pick three things that you really want in an employer. Is it flexibility? Is it that you want to be paid at a certain grade level? Is it support? I know when I was, when I was applying for jobs, everybody I spoke to was freaking out about getting the right support. And they said, you know, in a community role, you’re not going to get enough support. And so you can ask those questions in your interview. If those things are really important to you, you can sit down and just like, look, these are the things that are important for me. Can you offer this? And generally the employer is going to tell you yes or no. And if they tell you yes, great. That’s just ticked off three boxes. That’s the highest contender. I think that really helps you narrow it down. You can keep applying. But if you find something that ticks all three boxes, there’s no point in looking further because you probably will find something else as well. But what’s the point if you can really start somewhere that gives you those things that you need?
Danielle Weedon Yeah, yeah. Yep, agree. And what’s your biggest challenge being in the first six months as a therapist?
Daniela Radosevic Oh, I would say it’s two things. Yeah, so three months in, I was like, Oh, I’ve got to really hold back. Not hold back, but I need to find that work-life balance again, because the first three months were really go, go, go, go and finding time for self-care. I’m trying to bring that back and cut myself off at five o’clock or not – I was answering my phone on weekends and evenings and checking emails. So really stopping that. Yes, that was right for the first few months, but three month mark, you need to pull back a bit and focus on you, because we’re spending so much time with clients as well, and over time, that will get to you. So it’s really important to remember you and the people around you as well. That’s always a good one. And the other challenge was the combination of, I would say, telehealth and face to face. Most, I think most people coming out now will have a little bit of experience in telehealth, but I hadn’t had any. And it’s completely different. So just being creative and again, just being really kind with yourself. There’s a lot of resources online. But just giving it a go. Being creative, I’ve found so many different resources now and frequenting forums, like people have already done these things. So don’t reinvent the wheel.
Danielle Weedon Yes, so true. Draw from other experts and other professionals that are doing it already and have done it. Yeah, I agree. And I think what you touched on with the first challenge in the community therapy sector is so true, because the perk of the autonomy of the role is there. It also means that it can bleed into your personal time. You know, if you are in a private practice role, you would see your client at the practice. And yes, you know, yes, you’d have some report writing and other things that can be carried into your personal life, but it’s a bit more clear cut. Or if you’re in a hospital based role, you turn up to work and you go home. So that’s really good advice, I think, for any grads that are in that community arena. And what about a memorable moment since you graduated? Anything funny?
Daniela Radosevic It’s not a funny moment, but it’s just an endearing moment. I have one of my favourite clients; I won’t say who. And he just he believes that he can’t read. He’s like, it’s never going to happen, I just can’t do it. And we’re about – I think we’re about two months, two months in and he’s starting to he’s picking up a book and he’s actually getting through the entire book. And it’s just nice because even his family said, you know, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. He can’t focus. He can’t this, he can’t that. And I just think if you give someone the right tools, they can do anything.
Danielle Weedon That’s why that’s why you’re an amazing speech and language pathologist. And then anything more broadly. Was there anything you tell yourself, you know, during university? Is there any tips for people that are still studying, for therapists that are still studying maybe?
Daniela Radosevic Yes. So I’ve actually had a few. We did mentorships in our final year, so I still keep in contact with some of the students in second year now, and a lot of them said, you know, there’s a lot of uncertainty over placements being cancelled; I don’t want to do it. Like I had to do 50 percent of my final placement at a COVID vaccine clinic. So I’ve missed out on a lot of my adult placement. I only had like a quarter of the experience and a lot of people I’ve spoken to who said, should we just hold off and wait another six months to graduate? And I said, no, just finish because again, you can learn all of that on the job and don’t feel like, you know, if you do have to at some point, do you know, working in a COVID clinic for 50% of the time, you can learn all of that on the job, you know, just get through. You’re almost there.
Danielle Weedon I love it. I love it. It takes me back many years ago that I graduated, but I, and I did a rotational role at Melbourne Hospital as a physio, but I remember being really quite nervous seeing my first few patients like really just, you know, yes, I’d done clinics, but actually I was a real physio now. Like I’m registered and and people are listening to me, and I really need to give them the right advice and the right, you know, therapy. But I completely agree. Once you once you’re graduated, it is about getting getting stuck into it, being honest, getting support from your employer, support from your peers, from university. They’re in the same position as you knowing that no one expects you to be a, you know, therapist with 15 years experience.
Daniela Radosevic Definitely. And that’s something that I I had to learn because I was really bad. I wanted to give the client the answer there and then, and I felt that I didn’t know. So I had to really work on just simple words. I don’t know. I don’t know but I’m going to get back to you on that. I can find outsounds great.
Danielle Weedon That’s right. That’s right. And you know what? That’s what …If you were my therapist, that’s exactly what I’d want to hear. Not, not information yeah… That’s exactly what I’d want to hear. Yeah. Excellent. Well, thanks for your time, Daniela. I really, really appreciate it. After hours too, it’s pushed into your personal, into your personal life.
Daniela Radosevic Oh no, not at all. I feel like I’ve had Monday-itis, and this is just brought me up a little bit, so.
Danielle Weedon Oh good, well, we really appreciate it – your time and your expertise, and I’m sure that grads that listen to this will get a lot out of it. So thanks again. Thanks to Danniela for sharing her insights and experience as a graduate speech pathologist. Don’t forget to subscribe to Allied Health Podcast and we look forward to you joining us for episode four.
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.