Your First Job – What Is The Best Move For You?

Posted By: Andy Barker

Do you do your NHS rotations?

Go straight into private practice…

Or try get your foot in the door sport straight away?

Is the most important thing at the start of your career just to get some experience or should you go after your dream job right away?

There is a lot to try figure out when you first graduate.

Knowing what to do and making sure you make the right career decisions that will help you progress and not waste those vital early years of learning.

If that’s you right now you will know exactly what I mean.

With so many mixed messages from University lecturers, friends, family, colleagues and other therapists on Instagram or LinkedIn it can be almost impossible to try make sense of it all and actually decide what the best move for you actually is.

To help you out here are 3 key things you need to know to give you career clarity and help you plan the best move for you, to make those first steps to a happy and successful career as a physio, sports therapist or sports rehabilatator.

#1 Things Don’t Usually Happen As You Had Hoped

This is especially so at the start.

I am sure you had a plan when you first graduated about what life would be like as a new grad…

But for most (99%) it probably hasn’t quite happened that way.

Maybe you started your rotations, knowing that MSK is probably the area you want to work, but 18 months later you are still waiting for that MSK rotation…

Or you have gone straight into sport, but you are getting paid peanuts and working long and unsociable hours with no real clear path for progression…

Or you have gone straight into private practice, but you already bored of just seeing all the medico-legal cases, loads of whiplash injuries and the like, same after same injuries and all the paperwork that goes with it…

All roles that are not what you expected and likely not as enjoyable as you would have hoped for.

Very few therapists will walk straight from Uni and into their dream job.

But what I would say is that if you know where you want to end up i.e. what your dream job is, then the sooner you start steering your ship towards that goal then sooner and more likely you are to achieving that goal.

Added to that if the role you are in right now is a role you do not enjoy or that is offering you very little return, like a lack learning or career progression or inadequate financial return, then it might be worth considering a move to do something different.


#2 Your Career Is Your Career

Just because someone else has done something or followed a particular route, does NOT mean that you should do the same thing.

Your career is YOUR career and you need to make the best decisions that are right for you.

Doing your NHS rotations just because you were advised at University or just because everyone else does the same, is not a good enough reason.

Working in sport or private practice and getting paid peanuts or getting little support for your learning or development is not good, and even though you are gaining ‘experience,’ this is again not a good enough reason to keep doing that role.

Always remember people’s advice, whether it’s a lecturer, a senior colleague at work, friends, family or some ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ on Instagram telling you what to do, usually just reflects their own experiences.

This usually manifests itself as them just telling you what they did and why your should do the same.

Look at me I’m great, I’m living my best life etc etc etc.

Always remember that two therapists career journeys are never the same.

Never try to copy-cat someone else’s career as it just does not work like this.


#3 Take Advice From The Right People

Some advice is good, some bad and some is just down right awful.

Taking advice from the right people is so important.

The right advice will help you progress.

But the wrong advice will cause your career to stall or even lead to you falling behind your peers.

As a new grad the last person you want to take advice from is another new grad.


You might think they would be good as they are going through the same problems and challenges as you.

They might make you feel better by giving you reassurance as you are both going through the same challenges and have the same pains, frustrations and problems as you.

This can feel better to feel like you are not the only one and it’s not just you going the challenges you are right now, but as reassuring as that might be,

someone at the same point in their career as you is not the best person to take advice from, especially in relation to career advice.

The reason is because they overcome the challenges that they or you are facing right now, never mind the challenges you will face in the future.

The best people to seek advice from are always those therapists that are at least 2-3 steps ahead of where you are right now.

Having been where you are and having come through the challenges you are facing right now they are best placed to advise you…

And on top of that they have the experience and foresight to help you prepare for the challenges that await for you, many of which you will not even be aware of…

To stop you making further career progress in the future…

So you can plan and prepare and avoid the very same pitfalls that the majority of therapists fall into.

See it like career prehab.

Rather than waiting for a problem to occur and trying to fix it, like a patient getting an injury and giving them rehab…

If you know the problems that are coming up you can put into place a plan to avoid these problems, like you might give a patient a prehab plan of mobility, activation or strengthening work to minimise them getting injured in the first place.

To wrap things up here are the big take-away messages…

Things Don’t Usually Happen As You Had Hoped – What you hope will happen when you graduate and how your career actually starts can be very different but this is normal and no career path is ever the same for any two therapists. 

Your Career Is Your Career – You need to make the right career decisions that will help you learn and progress. Try to resist just following the crowd and doing what everyone else is doing as this may not be the best path for you.

Take Advice From The Right People – There is good and bad advice. As a new grad you are highly influenced by the advice you take on board so make sure the advice you do listen to comes from someone that has successfully been through the challenges you are facing right now and can help you plan and steer clear of the pitfalls that you may hit further down your career path.

I hope this helps.

Andy Barker

The New Grad Physio Mentor

PS. Feel a bit lost right now and not too sure what the best direction to take your career…

Or do you know what you want to do but are finding it hard to get your career moving or get your foot in the door?

Send me an email with the word ‘FAST-TRACK’ to or reach out to me on social media (just send me a DM) and I’ll get right back to you with some help.