Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 2

Top 10 Tips – What to look for in a Role as a Graduate or Early Career Allied Health Professional

Episode 2 with Danielle Weedon (Physiotherapist) and Clare Jones (Occupational Therapist) explores our Top 10 Tips – What to look for in a Role as a Graduate or Early Career Allied Health Professional.

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 two of Allied Health Podcast. You’re with me, Clare Jones and Danielle Weedon. Hi Dan.

Danielle Weedon Hey, everyone.

Clare Jones So in this episode, we are going to be looking at working out how you decide which role is right for you. So with demand so high and such a wide variety of opportunities on offer for health professionals, there’ll no doubt be an abundance of roles for you to apply to, which is positive. However, we see many people fall into the trap of applying for multiple roles without considering which roles are right for them. This often leads to multiple job offers at the same time, which can easily become really overwhelming and stressful, and can result in you choosing a role that you’re not ideally suited to.

Danielle Weedon Yeah. And just to be clear, we’re not suggesting that you only apply for one role, but that you take the time before you start applying for roles and before you start the recruitment process, to work out what you’re ideally looking for in a role and to apply for roles that meet most of your criteria. In this way, you’ll have a much better chance of landing a role that you’ll succeed in.

Clare Jones So here are our top 10 tips to help you work out which role is right for you. Now we’re going to start with the obvious, and that’s area of practice. So towards the end of your degree, you may have an idea of what you’d like to the area you’d like to practise in. So paediatrics or adults, community rehab, acute aged care, mental health, occupational rehab, assistive technology. The list goes on. Now, some people have a really clear idea of the pathway they want to take, and some don’t. And that’s absolutely fine. For those of you who are open to all options, considering other factors will help you narrow down your search and which job opportunities to apply for.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, absolutely. Which brings us to tip two, which is induction, and considering whether the organisation offers a structured induction programme and/or a graduate programme. So it’s vital in your graduate year that you feel and that you are supported in your role. More and more clients in the community and aged care sectors are running very structured graduate programmes, which roll out in the first six months of the job. Commonly, smaller private practices offer a less formal induction, and this often consists of very tailored and personalised shadowing and mentoring where you see clients jointly with a senior therapist. Regardless of whether or not the induction programme is formal or informal, it should include increased supervision, mentoring and professional development, as well as reduce billable hours in your graduate year.

Clare Jones Tip three. We’re talking about supervision and support. Now, supervision and support are critical and absolutely non-negotiable for any new grad role. So with any role you’re considering, you need to know before committing to that role how much supervision is on offer. How often you’ll be given supervision. And how you can access informal supervision when the need arises. So on the spot supervision, when you get stuck with a client, it’s also important to ask who will be providing you with supervision. So if you’re an occupational therapist, you need to know if it’s going to be an occupational therapist that will be supervising and how much experience they have.

Danielle Weedon Tip four: professional development. So most organisations all will be open to supporting you with internal professional development and also assist you with an annual professional development allowance for any further training you may like to undertake relevant to the clinical setting. Internal professional development training will often be in the form of in services which can be undertaken face to face or online.

Clare Jones Tip five, we’re talking about setting. So, which setting suits you best? I like to refer to this as a lunchroom decision. Do you want to work in a setting that has a lunchroom, such as a clinic or a hospital? In this type of setting you’ll typically work with or in close proximity to other health professionals, and you’ll have the opportunity to interact with, say, other therapists throughout the day. Or are you happy working autonomously out in the community during your admin from home and meetings in a library or a coffee shop for supervision or team meetings, or connecting online for supervision and support? It’s really important to mention that you can be successful in any setting you’re working in, just as long as you have the right supervision and support.

Danielle Weedon Tip six: for everyone, it’s very important to consider whether you want to work to billable hours. When you’re working to billable hours, you track the amount of time that you provide therapy services with each client, and then the client is charged by the organisation accordingly. Working to billable hours is common in community therapy, private practice and occupational rehab, where seeing billable hours vary between 20 to 28 hours per week. And it’s very important that you discuss with a future employer what their target billable hours are. What services can be billed for, for example, travel. And to ascertain whether there will be support around achieving these billable hours, especially in your graduate year.

Clare Jones Tip seven relates to travel. Travel is really important to consider, as it can have a significant impact on your work life balance and consequently, how much you enjoy a role. Here are the key considerations when it comes to travel. Is a car required for the role? If so, do you need your own car or is a car provided? How far are you prepared to travel to and from work and how much travel is required in the role? If I’m working out in the community, if you’re working out in the community, are you required to attend the office at the beginning and the end of each day? Or can you commute directly to and from appointments from home? This will save you a lot of time. Is travel time included in billable hours? And how am I reimbursed for travel? Am I offered a travel allowance or am I compensated for mileage? If it’s the latter, you’ll need to keep a logbook. And finally, is regional or interstate travel required? And if so, how often?

Danielle Weedon Tip eight, we’re talking about remuneration and tools of the trade. Regarding remuneration in your graduate year, we’re typically seeing grads offered between about $65,000 and $75,000 in base salary a year, plus 10 per cent superannuation. And in addition, for some roles, they’ll be offered a car allowance and possible bonus. Some regional and remote roles are currently offering higher salaries, and some are also offering accommodation and relocation allowances. At the moment, we’ve actually got one particular client offering a rural grant for up to $10,000 in professional development to successful therapists. So when it comes to remuneration, though, it’s really important in your grad year and we emphasise it to all of the graduates that we speak to, that you prioritise supervision and support over following the money. Regarding tools of the trade, more and more companies will offer additional tools as part of a role. In community therapy, you’ll often be issued with therapy equipment, plinths and other items that you’ll need to undertake the services in the home. Some organisations, especially in occupational rehab and community therapy, will issue you with a work mobile and laptop or iPad, given that there’s a substantial proportion of the role that’s report writing, which you can do from home. So keep in mind that if some of the tools aren’t provided, you may need to purchase these yourself. And so while it’ll be a tax deduction, it’s also an important consideration to be aware of, that you may need to outlay financially towards these to undertake a role.

Clare Jones Tip nine. We’re talking about types of employment, so it’s important to consider what type of employment you prefer. The options are permanent full time or part time, a fixed term contract, casual employment or working as a contractor. When you’re employed as a permanent employee, your employment is ongoing and at a minimum, you’re paid a base salary and superannuation and you’re entitled to personal and annual leave. Full time employees typically work 38 hours a week, and part time employees work less than 38 hours a week and a paid pro-rata for the time that they work. Typically, we see employers investing in permanent employees in terms of professional development and career progression. When you’re working to a fixed term contract, you typically have all the same conditions as permanent employment. However, you are employed for a certain period of time rather than indefinitely. So you might undertake, for example, a six month contract. With casual employment, there’s no commitment or assurance of ongoing work and hours of employment can change from week to week. Casual employees are entitled to a higher rate of pay. However, they’re not entitled to benefits such as paid leave and personal leave. As a contractor, you’re basically running your own business. You need an Australian business number, an ABN, and you need to pay tax on super. You’re not entitled to paid leave if you get sick or injured, and you’re also required to have insurances such as public liability and professional indemnity. Now, in no way does this sum up all you need to know about working as a contractor. It’s a complex arrangement, and we strongly advise you to seek professional accounting, tax and legal advice before entering a contracting agreement.

Danielle Weedon Absolutely. And that brings us to our tip ten. Lastly, where we wanted to talk about workplace culture. So what is workplace culture? Culture refers to the values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterise an organisation. In simple terms, company culture largely determines how healthy a workplace is and how much you will enjoy working with a company. Joining a company who you’re aligned with culturally will maximise the chances of you succeeding in a role. Some things around company culture to consider are: What are the company’s values? What is the company’s commitment to service delivery excellence? What does the company offer in support and supervision? Does the company encourage social connectedness and team building amongst its staff? Does the company value work-life balance and does the company commit to professional development and career progression for its staff? So it’s really important that you’re aligned with a company’s culture and to determine this, it’s very important that you ask these questions at interview stage. If you’ve got the opportunity to shadow a therapist for a day, you may even get a better insight into the company culture. And better still, if you know anyone that works at the company ask for their opinion and insights.

Clare Jones So just to recap our top 10 things to consider when deciding which role is right for you are: the area of practice, the induction on offer, supervision and support, professional development, the setting you’ll be working in, are you required to work to billable hours, travel, remuneration and tools of the trade, the type of employment that’s on offer and the company culture. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of Allied Health Podcast. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe. And we look forward to you joining us for our next episode. Bye!

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.