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Real life stories

Name: Tahira Jabeen Razaq

Job title: physiotherapy assistant, East Birmingham Primary Care Trust

Entry route: assistant, after working in business administration

I’d been in office work for ten years when I stopped to have my son. I knew I wanted to go back to something different, working directly with people rather than paper-pushing.

With a view to getting a health profession qualification, I did an access to higher education course. But then due to financial commitments, I could not afford to do a full-time degree. So I started looking at the NHS Careers website and saw opportunities for assistants in some professions where no specific qualifications were required. I fitted the "person spec" for a physiotherapy assistant well, and it was exactly the kind of front-line role I wanted.

I'm a member of the Partners in Health Centre in Birmingham. It's a centre for the management and treatment of long-term conditions such as arthritis, where we work with dietitians and nurses. The physiotherapy triage team provides a wide range of care through individual treatments and group activities. For example, we guide groups of people through exercises and relaxation techniques to help them manage chronic pain. We also teach patients how to use new walking aids, specifying the fittings they may need to get around safely at home, and run injection clinics for pain relief.

My son is five years old now and the NHS offers me enough flexibility to balance my home and work life. There are three physiotherapy assistants and we plan between ourselves to ensure all the clinic times are properly covered.

Soon I'll start a one-year, day-release BTEC course that will qualify me for promotion to technical instructor. My previous business experience hasn't been wasted – I think it has given me a professional, customer-first approach, which helps with this job