A Day in the Life of a First Contact Physiotherapist
25th June 2021
Hi, my name is Myrto and I work as a Central Health First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP).
I’m based within a Primary Care Network (PCN), providing FCP services across seven GP practices.
My role involves being the first point of contact for patients making contact with Musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints.
As FCPs, we deliver initial assessment, diagnosis, and management of MSK patients, whilst supporting our GP colleagues and therefore helping to reduce their workloads.
Every day as an FCP can be different, but here’s a general look at my working day.
I usually arrive at the surgery early, so I have time to check my emails and tasks from the GPs and admin teams. This is a good time to get the jobs of the day sorted and try to prioritise the patients that have made contact. This allows me to call the most urgent cases first and possibly book them for a face-to-face examination later in the day. And, of course, it’s the time for morning coffee and a catch-up with the rest of the team while waiting for the kettle to boil!
The working day begins with the urgent phone calls and ones that require contact with a translation service since they tend to take more time. We offer 10 to 20-minute phone consultations based on the case and special requirements (interpreter). During the calls, I ask patients targeted questions at first to exclude any red flag symptoms and then let them describe their symptoms. I then develop a working diagnosis of the patient’s MSK problem. Based on that I develop a management plan. They may require self-management advice about their diagnosis and one follow-up from me to review symptoms. I might refer for physio treatment, refer to secondary care (hospital-based services), or further investigation (including x-ray, blood tests, and MRI). I am trying to guide patients with home management advice, carefully planned exercise programs, and general advice based on lifestyle, job, and daily activities, and hope to manage and help resolve their MSK issues through my management if able.
Lunch break, and because of the fast-paced morning I usually grab a snack and catch up with different tasks that came up earlier. It’s also the time when I might catch up with any of the GP’s if I need advice or a second opinion on a patient. Usually, around this time I will get my second and final cup of coffee for the day!
This is the time before face-to-face consultations begin, and usually, I have some patients booked in for the follow-up phone calls. They can be either cases that I have sent for investigation and I need to call them back to discuss results, or people that I suspected might need further treatment so I’m calling to see how the self-management at home went. If they still report issues then I may refer them for hands-on physiotherapy treatment or make a more appropriate referral.
Face-to-face consultations begin, which are 20-minute slots. I enjoy these as they allow me to connect with patients and they feel better seeing someone in person. These patients are usually the ones with the most complex cases that need in-person examinations to determine a diagnosis. Sometimes these patients have seemed very anxious over the phone, and I’m seeing them in person to help provide confidence and reassurance for the general plan ahead.
The last hour of the day is dedicated to admin, further patient management, related tasks, and finishing off pending issues from the morning. Usually, I send all of the referrals at the end of the day – either for physio, further investigation, or other management options depending on patient requirements following my assessment. I also use this time to prepare video home exercise plans for my patients, which I send either via email or post. Now that the working day is over it’s time to get some dinner, unwind and recharge ready for the next day!
Being an FCP is great, it’s very dynamic and the role is becoming an integral part of GP-based primary care service provision. My role comes with lots of professional development opportunities and one that I find rewarding and very much enjoy!