Allied Health Professionals are not renowned for mapping out or diversifying their careers. Upon graduation, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists and Exercise Physiologists tend to find a speciality early in their career and stay on this pathway. The underlying motivation for most in the field is to help others, which is admirable, but there are huge gains to be made by ensuring therapists career needs and aims evolve with time.
Danielle Weedon and Clare Jones, both Allied Health Professionals, are co-directors of MediRecruit, a specialist recruitment company based in Melbourne. They are determined to help practitioners carve out the career they want, and can help reveal all sorts of opportunities.
Even now, they say, career paths are rarely discussed. MediRecruit provides career advice and education and assists Allied Health Professionals to explore a range of career pathways and opportunities. Depending on the individual’s interests, those options might include a move into corporate health, quality assurance or management, into a different specialty or business development.
“We pride ourselves on empowering therapists to understand they’ve got options, they don’t necessarily know or realise,” says Weedon.
Many therapists don’t realise the extent of demand for their services – and therefore the opportunities available. Today, the need for Allied Health Professionals is unprecedented, thanks to the introduction of the NDIS. As well as providing greater funding, the NDIS allows more control over that funding, and as a result, there is more awareness about what services users of the NDIS might enlist.
“We are in a new era for Allied Health Professionals,” says Jones. “In the last 20 years, I’ve never seen allied health professionals in such high demand as they are at the moment.”
Weedon agrees, saying there’s been a massive burst of energy in the sector, including a lot of welcome innovation: NDIS funded meal services, for example, adaptive and inclusive apparel, and equipment and assistive technology devices.
Australia’s aging population means the aged care sector has a huge demand for therapists in that sector.
The MediRecruit team say there has also been a spike in demand for the work that allied health professionals do in terms of workplace injury and helping employees return to work.
It is clear the women’s partnership has been fundamental to the success of the business. They had similar career paths early on: Jones studied Occupational Therapy at The University of Queensland, worked as a graduate Occupational Therapist in Brisbane before heading to Ireland and the UK to work as a locum. Weedon trained as a Physiotherapist at the University of Melbourne worked as a graduate in Melbourne and also went to the UK to work as a therapist.
On their return, both recognised a niche for their then colleagues who were either looking to work in the UK, returning from travel and looking for positions domestically, or looking for work in Australia.
Putting their heads together, they realised they brought an impressive suite of skills to the table and complemented each other wonderfully. The result was MediRecruit, which this year celebrates 20 years in business.
The team has always provided a flexible workplace for their staff and hope that thanks to COVID most other employers will too. With six children between them, at one stage the board room in their St Kilda Rd office was converted to an in-house daycare centre with a nanny looking after the kids while they worked next door.
Inherent in their approach is awareness around women “and the battles that we face and having careers,” says Weedon.
Since COVID hit, the reality of our world went out to the broader world,” she says. “COVID has made working life so much more family-friendly.”
One key to business success has been trust. Jones and Weedon’s business relationship has endured because of their mutual trust, that of their staff and, of course, the trust of their clients. “[They] entrust us with confidential and intimate details of their businesses so that we can find them the right therapists,” says Weedon. ”Therapists we work with entrust us with all of their CV details, career aspirations, salary expectations – really quite sensitive information. If we didn’t have a business with a proven track record of trust we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The fact both Directors trained in Allied Health sets them apart from most other players in recruitment. “Having lived and breathed the work our clients are doing, that’s the secret to success,” says Jones. “It does really help with building relationships with therapists and clients. Our approach is never a sales approach, it’s a problem-solving approach, aiming to achieve long-term success for both. Ultimately we want the right therapist in the right organisation.”
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