Why EVERY New Grad Physio Needs A Mentor

Posted By: Andy Barker

I should really re-write the title as it’s not just New Grad Physio’s, Sports Therapists and Sports Rehabilitators that need mentoring, experienced therapists do to.

At every stage of your therapy journey, regardless of your profession and regardless of whether you work in the NHS, private practice or sport, you are faced with specific challenges.

As simple as this sounds, the best advice you can often get is from someone that has already been through those very same challenges.

They can help you with the problems you are currently facing in your day-day practice, like those tricky patients.

They can offer you career and educational support to ensure you continue to climb the promotion ladder.

They can even help you side-step challenges that you might not even know are coming.

Whilst mentorship is important at every stage of your career, it’s particularly so as a New Grad.

The right help and support can save you 5+ years of frustration, stagnation in your learning and career progression and above all else, years of not enjoying the job you’ve always wanted to do.

In this blog post I’m going to show you WHY you need a mentor as a New Grad Physio, advice about HOW to get one and also show you the BIGGEST MISTAKE New Grad’s make when trying to reach out for support (this is the #1 reason any potential mentors say NO).

Why Do I Need A Mentor?

Moving from University and into the working world is the biggest transition you will make as a therapist.

Whilst you may make further transitions in your career, like a higher level role, moving to another clinic or even changing the area you work in (NHS to private practice or sport), nothing will compare to moving out of the University ‘Bubble’ and into the Real World.

At University you have that constant network of support around you, your classmates, lecturers and placement educators, to help you overcome the challenges you come up against.

Once you qualify you are thrown into a fast-paced environment, with your own caseload, heightened pressure and expectations from your patients and senior colleagues to start getting positive patient results and all this, WITHOUT the level of support you feel like you need…

It’s either sink or swim…

Some New Grad’s sink and others swim.

Some might be treading water, but for me, if you are not progressing your sinking!!!

The easiest way to ensure you can overcome the challenges you face as a New Grad is to get help.

Help from someone that has walked in your shoes and overcome the very same challenges you are facing right now.

I do this all the time.

In fact, I did exactly that this week.

I’ve been working on a BIG project over the last couple of months. This is my biggest project to date since the launch of my book earlier in the year (I can’t tell you what this is yet…but I promise you’ll be the first to find out).

I hit a few stumbling blocks on the IT side of things and was struggling to get me head around the best way to complete what I was doing.

I’d half figured it out but only after wasting a full morning doing so.

Then I thought, why not ask someone I know that has recently done the same thing.

So, I did.

And literally an hour later it was done and dusted.

Its easy when you know how.

Could I have figured it out myself?


But it would of took me x10 the amount of time, effort, frustration and in the end, the final product would not have been anywhere near as good as it is.

The same goes for your progress as a New Grad Physio.

Reaching out for help is the fastest way to get you where you want to be, to accelerate your learning and career progression and enjoy your life as a New Grad Physio.

What Are You Bringing To The Party?

We all know those people that take, take, take…

Those family members or friends that you only hear from when they want something from you.

But this is what many New Grad’s do…

They ask for help, for support, for mentorship.

But they aren’t prepared to give anything in return.

So why would someone want to mentor you when they are not getting anything from the relationship.
Answer is, they wouldn’t.

You must see any form of mentorship as a 2-way relationship.

You might be thinking you don’t have much to offer as a New Grad to a more experienced therapist, but you would be wrong.

Whether it’s a research project, writing a journal article, some volunteering or cover for an event they are involved in, it doesn’t really matter.

You must be willing to offer your time, effort or even money in return to receive the right level of help and support you need to really enjoy that successful start to your New Grad journey you really want.

It also might be a slow burner.

Whilst you are reaching out for help to address challenges you face right now, the same mentor will be able to help you in the long term, providing the relationship continues.

Don’t just see the relationship as a short-term fix.

It could be the start of a long and fulfilling partnership and help you with many problems over the course of your professional career.

My own New Grad mentor still mentors me to this day, almost 10 years to the day, to when he first started helping me out.

In addition to helping me fast-track my New Grad career, he has helped me set up my own private practice business, open doors to other sporting consultancy work and even helped teach me how to write better resources (so if you don’t rate this blog and how its written, it’s his fault!).

The help I have received is endless.

Also remember that senior therapists will often be busier than you are.

Quite often they will be spinning a few plates; could be involved in multiple areas of work, teaching, online training and possibly have a busier home life i.e. kids.

So, your offer to give up more of their time, in an already very busy week, is a BIG request.

So, you need to ensure you position your offer in the right way and ensure that you are bringing something to the party.

Have You Tried To Fix The Problem Yourself?

If you haven’t tried to fix a problem yourself then is it actually a problem?

Reaching out for help and support having NOT tried to fix the problem yourself is the BIGGEST MISTAKE I see New Grad’s make when asking others for assistance.

I get emails every-day from New Grad’s asking for help and advice.

I love helping New Grad’s as that’s what I do.

I respond personally to every email I get.

I give help and direction to every New Grad that gets in touch.

But do you know what?

Most of them I never get a reply from.

Do you know why?

It’s because they aren’t willing to put any work in themselves, instead they just want a quick fix and answer, thinking that’s what they need.

They might ask for some direction about a tricky patient or pathology, ask for career guidance or help putting together a therapy specific CV.

I might give them some direction towards a couple of journal articles, one of my other blogs or resources that cover this topic or ask them if they’ve tried X, Y or Z…

Then I ask them to get back in touch when they have done this.

90% of New Grad’s I never hear from again.

Maybe some of them took the advice and it solved their problem.

Maybe they didn’t bother following up my advice, and that’s why they never got back in touch.

I know which one it is and I’m sure you can guess to.

If you are unwilling to put some time and effort into actually trying to figure things out yourself first, before you ask for help, is it any wonder you might not get that positive response from a potential mentor, who you are asking to give up the same thing, their own time and effort, to help you.

I’m sure you can figure out why many New Grad’s, maybe even you, have struggled in the past to get the right mentorship.

Key Take-Aways

  • Pick Someone That Has Walked In Your Shoes – Different challenges require different levels of support. Pick the right support for the challenges (current and future) that are specific to your own circumstances
  • Play The Long Game – Try to see past short-term help and by trying to build a long term, 2-way relationship, you will see the maximum benefit of any mentorship
  • Take Action First – Try figure the problem out first before reaching out for help and support

I would love to hear your own stories and even problems gaining access to a mentor as a New Grad Physio. Reach out to me at andy@newgradphysio.com.

If you found reading this blog post useful you will also find BIG value in my book ‘How To Become A Competent, Confident & Competitive New Grad Physio.’

In the book I show you WHY you need the 3 C’s; COMPETENCY, CONFIDENCE & COMPETITIVENESS, and HOW to gain these skill-sets to enjoy a successful start to your career as a New Grad Physio, Sports Therapist or Sports Rehabilitator.

Find out more about the book here.