I chose to work at Connect as I felt I could progress quicker despite taking a backward step in responsibilities initially

Paul Shawcross, Developing Consultant Physiotherapist, has a clinical interest in the management of musculoskeletal health in the workplace.

Paul Shawcross, Developing Consultant Physiotherapist, has a clinical interest in the management of musculoskeletal health in the workplace.

He talks about how the Developing Consultant Physiotherapist (DCP) programme is enabling him to embed his clinical leadership skills across Connect’s occupational health physiotherapy services.

I ran the Manchester marathon recently and see the benefit that regular physical activity has for myself and my patients

I have always had a keen interest in sport, playing tennis in the North and East Cheshire leagues at the regional level. In my late teens, I suffered from tennis and golfer’s elbow and that sparked my interest in rehabilitation, recovery, and prevention.

I went on to complete a BSc degree in Sports Science & Physiology, then an MSc in Physiotherapy (pre-registration). After working in various roles, I joined Connect Health in March 2015 and I am now completing a second MSc in Health Ergonomics that was supported (financially and time allocation) by Connect. Ergonomics is essentially where a clinician goes into the workplace to help both the employer and their employees manage musculoskeletal health more effectively.

Connect has a willingness to drive change and not “sit still” which I found really attractive

I used to work for a smaller company where I found myself getting a little bit frustrated with the lack of a career pathway. At Connect, I immediately felt I had a better work-life balance. Although still working hard within my working hours, I finish work by 5pm enabling me to do the sports I love in the evenings. In my previous role, I found I didn’t finish until 8pm most nights with lots of traveling – a smaller company with a lack of processes and procedures.


I found my voice and my ideas were listened to and I was subsequently promoted within my first year at Connect

Since joining as a Senior Physiotherapist, I have been given the chance to influence the company’s clinical practice/delivery and progress through my chosen career pathway.

Within 12 months, I became a clinical and operational team leader which gave me line management, contract management and clinical leadership responsibilities. I was quick to identify an opportunity to further how clinical leadership shapes our development pathway in the occupational health division.

Through voicing my opinion and providing a business case, Connect has invested in a clinical career structure and development pathway (the developing consultant programme) as well as supporting me in the completion of a part-time MSc.

The Developing Consultant Physiotherapist (DCP) programme is reaping rewards

The interview process for the DCP programme involved giving my ideas for how this role could develop the occupational health division of Connect Health. While facing touch internal competition, I was successful in my application, that saw myself commencing the DCP in January 2019.

Based on the latest clinical evidence and technology advancements, the aim was to clinically develop the physiotherapists working in occupational health. By collating more robust clinical outcome data, I have now brought in a quality report summarising how we are performing from a clinical delivery and governance point of view. This goes some way to smoothing out any variation in the quality of practice.

Personally, I hope the DCP will increase my involvement in research and education whilst advancing my leadership skills to reach consultant level. Through the in-service training package and measurement of clinical competency, I want to create a clinical career pathway so that other people can get into leadership positions, whilst demonstrating quality and leading the way.

The DCP programme offers a great deal

The programme provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the DCP. I have been able to identify and pick key areas and projects to work in within my allocated 2 days per week programme time. I’m now focusing on growing the profile of the occupational health side of the business, carrying out MSK educational network talks through a partnership I have secured with Manchester Metropolitan University. 

I love the inclusive nature of the programme, enabling me to get involved with all clinical leadership aspects of the business. For example, I lead the Clinical Steering Group, which in turn means I am invited to attend the senior leadership meetings such as the clinical governance group and clinical and operational group. These provide a great learning opportunity, with the organisation’s medical director and consultant physiotherapists in attendance.

My hopes and aspirations for the future

I would like to develop in each area that the programme focuses on and to ultimately become a consultant physiotherapist.

I also have some interest in completing a Ph.D. which the programme would support. For the organisation, I would like to lead the continuous clinical practice change to keep up with the latest evidence base and evolve our services to deliver quality & innovation to our patients.

My advice to others looking for a career move

This programme is great for people who want to shape their own career progression. The structure allows you to go in whichever direction you want to but with guidance and support available if you want it.

If you’d like to find out more about working at Connect, contact hr@connecthealth.co.uk

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