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Allanah’s role shows how to raise the physiotherapy career ceiling.

People Stories 22 Nov 2023

As a treating physiotherapist, Allanah Baker found few options to progress her career. As the physicality of her work began to take a toll, she switched her focus to workplace rehabilitation where she discovered a physiotherapy career path that puts her clinical knowledge, experience and ambition to the best possible use.


The highs and lows of being a physiotherapist

Perth Team Manager, Allanah, spent the first eight years of her professional life in clinical roles, firstly sports-based treatment roles in private practice and then moving into on-site occupational physiotherapy for some of Australia’s largest companies. While she enjoyed being with clients it wasn’t without strain: “The early intervention and treatment work I was doing was very hands-on and it took a toll. I needed to take a step back. Now it’s nice not having to wake up to have sore hands or a sore body but still have daily interaction with people – it’s just on a different level,” Allanah said.Perth Team Leader Allanah Baker with her team.

Her roles, particularly as an on-site occupational physiotherapist also required more of her on a mental level than she expected. Allanah recalls: “My roles ended up being 5% physiotherapy and 95% psychology. I had a confidential room that people felt they could come to. People say a lot of things to you when they’re face down on a treatment bed. The psychological components of someone’s life factors so heavily into their pain and physical manifestations that it’s not something that you can ignore. But some issues were quite difficult. It was nice that people felt like they could confide in me, but it’s a very grey area and I was limited in what I could help them with. I ended up going home running things through my mind and worrying about what was said.”

Aside from these challenges, the lack of opportunities cemented Allanah’s decision to find a new path: “Physiotherapy has a very low ceiling in terms of career progression. You can own your own practice, but there isn’t too much further to go,” she explained.

I always like to know what the next challenge is going to be and know that I’m working towards something in particular. Being able to be part of a corporate environment where there’s room to grow was a huge draw card for me,” she said.

A positive move into workplace rehabilitation with KINNECT

Allanah joined KINNECT in December 2022 as a senior consultant, but it wasn’t long before she worked her way up – she was appointed Lead Consultant in April 2023, and then by the end of July she had secured the position of Perth Team Manager.

While her previous roles gave her experience in injury prevention and hands-on early intervention, she had relatively little exposure to return to work coordination. It was her willingness to jump in, clinical knowledge and ambition that saw her have such a quick and exciting progression.

“I was pretty clear coming into KINNECT that I wanted that kind of trajectory, I just didn’t expect it to happen over seven months, especially being relatively new to the industry. I’m enjoying the challenges, but it’s been a whirlwind.”

Translating previous experience into her new job description

In Allanah’s current role – leading a team, consulting and planning return-to-work and rehabilitation for injured and ill workers – she regularly draws on knowledge and experiences gained in her previous jobs.

“I was with companies like ALDI and Coles and Qantas, working physically on the ground with workers, even stacking shelves at times, so I got a fairly unique understanding of the divide between the real blue-collar workers and then their corporate seniors and the workplace dynamics that come along with those sorts of roles.

“When you have that first-hand experience with different logistics roles and light industrial workplaces, it gives you a little bit more insight into some of those challenges workers face on a day-to-day basis that don’t necessarily get spoken about, but you know exist,” Allanah said.

The interpersonal skills that Allanah developed while treating patients have also helped her with clients and team members alike: “When you’re a clinician you’re exposed to people from all walks of life, so you learn great interpersonal communication skills. You get used to reading people’s cues, whether they be verbal or nonverbal, and managing different emotions. Having a clinician’s perspective also helps with team management and team dynamics,” she described.

Allanah said her time management skills are put to good use, too: “When you have 20-30-minute appointments back-to-back for the entire day you get pretty good at making sure that you’re ticking things off and getting things done. It does mean that I really hate going home with things on my to do list for the day because as a treating physio I never had that – it was all done and I started the next day off fresh.”


What it’s like being Perth’s Team ManagerDay in the Life of Perth Team Manager Allanah Baker

Allanah points out that no two days are the same: “It can be nice to have some consistency but you’re never going to come to work and do the same thing day in and day out. There’s always a challenge.”

She also credits her amazing team in the Perth and Rockingham offices as a reason she loves her job: “I actually genuinely enjoy coming into the office and just seeing the team and interacting with them.”

The majority of her team are based in the Belmont office, however when the new Rockingham office opened in August 2023, Allanah was given two locations to manage. “Our new office in Rockingham is one hour away so there’s a challenge getting down there as much as I would like to. But the pre-employment team down there are self-sufficient. I don’t feel like I need to be there to keep an eye on them because they’re proactive in reaching out. I’m lucky with the team I have”.

Allanah is supported in managing a growing business in Western Australia by KINNECTs leadership team, despite many of them living in different time zones on the eastern side of Australia.

“We’ve got big clients coming on board and I’m managing a fast-growing team that will almost double in next six months. But it’s as much about a personal growth journey for me as it is a business growth journey. I’ve been with KINNECT 10 months so I’m still getting a deeper understanding of what underpins our business and how I can use my skills to develop the business and continue to grow and be successful,” she mused.


Allanah’s message for physiotherapists considering their career path

Allanah suggests to physiotherapists who are ready for a change not to rule out workplace rehabilitation until they try it:

“You don’t see a lot of physios doing this but we’re in a really unique situation where we get to coordinate all aspects of treatment rather than only getting to do one piece of the puzzle. You can help people from a holistic perspective.”

Although her new industry is great in terms of career progression and career growth, Allanah advises others to understand what they want and talk to people about how you’re going to get there: “It’s one thing to have all these career goals and plans, but at the end of the day you need to be working in a supportive environment with good managers and bosses and having that conversation. You need to make sure the people around you are aware of what you want to do so they can facilitate that.”

If you’re interested in using your physiotherapy experience in a new way, why not join us? For information about current vacancies, visit our Careers Centre.