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Childhood Surgery Inspires Leicester woman’s Physiotherapy Journey

A children’s physiotherapist from Leicester is sharing her inspirational story in the hope more people will follow her lead and return to practice. 

Rachel O’Sullivan was born with bilateral talipes (club foot) and had corrective surgery when she was five years old.  

Leicester Time: Childhood Surgery Inspires Leicester woman’s Physiotherapy Journey
Picture: Coventry University

It was the Leicestershire native’s positive experiences with the physiotherapy team during recovery that inspired her to pursue a physiotherapy career and help others. 

Rachel said: “I always knew that I wanted to work with people and help people, so due to my own experiences I went into children’s physiotherapy. After my operation, the physiotherapy helped me to walk in a more normal pattern and regain movement around my ankles. I work holistically and my own experiences have given me more empathy as I can understand what the children and families are experiencing. It is great to be able to give something back to a service that helped me.” 

Rachel completed her physiotherapy degree from Coventry University in 1999 but took a career break from the profession as her husband’s job saw the family relocate to New Jersey in the USA for more than three years.

She is now back helping children in a new role of Advanced Practitioner, Children’s Physiotherapist, for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. 

Rachel said: “Anyone who has worked for the NHS knows its value and my message to anyone thinking of returning to practice is just do it!” 

“I was apprehensive to start with because of the idea of academic work but there is nothing to be worried about. The staff are so supportive, and I’d recommend it to anybody. It hasn’t just helped me return to practice, it has helped me gain more leadership skills and secure a promotion.”

Rachel is one of 40 plus Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), from 14 different professions, that have completed the Coventry University course in the last 12 months and returned to roles in the NHS, health, and care. 

Return to Practice Course Director Mary Burton said: “The Return to Practice course is important as it is helping to increase the number of AHPs working within health and social care. 

“There is a real need and desire to recruit people, like Rachel, who have worked within health and social care before and have left the profession for many reasons”. 

“They have a wealth of knowledge and experience and have skills they have gained from other industries and life experiences that they will bring with them to enrich their roles”. 

“I’m so proud to see our students like Rachel successfully finding jobs and it’s a privilege to be able to support them along the way.”