Nicky Cockerill, ACS Cardiac Rehabilitation Physiotherapist

Nicky Cockerill is an ACS (Advanced Clinical Specialist) Cardiac Rehabilitation Physiotherapist for the York NHS Trust.

Starting her career as a PE teacher, Nicky now works for the NHS where she works with a huge team to help treat people and provide them with long term self-management of their condition.

Can you give some examples of what you do in a typical day or week?

I work as an Exercise Physiotherapist within a multi-disciplinary team of Doctors, Specialist Nurses, Pharmacists, and Dietitians to deliver a comprehensive programme of rehabilitation to a mixed age range (20’s through to 90 year olds) of clients recovering from a variety of heart problems, incorporating individualised physical activity circuity and interactive education workshops.

What do you enjoy most and least about your work?

As well as the autonomy of being a Chartered Professional practising assessment and treatment, planning and delivery, it is a privilege of the job to work alongside clients psychologically to build fitness and confidence to empower them to reach their goals and optimise their risk factor reduction for long term, chronic condition self-management.  The NHS is changing radically, as are the overall health challenges of the nation and the next generation.  I believe Physiotherapists will be crucial to the future health needs of all generations in the diverse areas in which we specialise.

How did you get into your current career?

My first degree was in Physiological Sciences and I worked as a private school PE teacher, having a sports background and teaching qualifications, only then realising I would like a medical, vocational job.  A hands-on profession working with people lead me to apply for a Physiotherapy BSc Hons.

Initially, my interests within the NHS laid with the poorly patient, intensive care and respiratory medicine, and also the burns patient.  As a Physiotherapist, you would treat the patient from their initial injury and trauma, but also continue to rehabilitate them and see them as an outpatient after skin grafts (and thus get to know a patient well through working with them).

I relocated from Nottingham to York where the option of cardio-thoracic surgery and rehabilitation arose and I have specialised in this area for the last 15 years.  Once again rehabilitating patients from the acute, often sudden, onset to outpatient secondary and lifelong prevention.

Alongside my NHS career progression, I have worked and travelled with medical charities, including leprosy hospitals and malaria screen in remote locations.

What advice would you give someone starting out in your career?

Realising that some Physiotherapists do specialise in sports and musculoskeletal medicine, but that there are many other specialist areas.  Thus keeping an open mind, as to qualify you need broad skills in all areas, such as mental health and well-being, neurology, respiratory, elderly care, and paediatrics to name but a few.

Work experience can be difficult to arrange, so arranging any avenue to demonstrate a good knowledge and range of research into the profession will enable your application to stand out.

A huge thank you to Nicky for sharing your story!

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