We thought it was high time we introduced the lovely Karen to you all!

Karen is one of our respiratory physiotherapists, and she’s been helping our patients who have heart and lung conditions, as well as people with complex breathing pattern problems or hyperventilation syndrome since she joined us in 2018. Karen also has a specialist interest in rehabilitation and airway clearance.

We couldn’t think of a more perfect way to find out a little more about Karen than by having a little Q&A session with her:

Where did it all begin?!

Believe it or not, my physio journey all began with a sports degree in Cardiff! Two years into my sports degree I realised that I actually wanted to do physio and not teach P.E, so I then studied physiotherapy in Cardiff once I’d completed my sports degree.

Was it “love at first sight”?

There was always a desire to do physio – I even completed my two weeks work experience when I was 14 years old in a mostly musculoskeletal environment… although this was the point at which I decided physio wasn’t for me!

So what changed?

I guess when I was younger I wasn’t fully aware of the different specialities I could work in and certainly not cardio-respiratory!

Doing my sports degree and then deciding on physiotherapy was just the starting point. Achieving my best marks during my respiratory placement on a busy intensive care unit in Cardiff, as well as my best grades in my respiratory modules at uni, cemented my decision to specialise in this field. I graduated in 2005 and completed my rotations in the NHS, most of which unintentionally had quite a cardio-respiratory bias to them. I then specialised in cardio-respiratory about 3.5 years after qualifying.

How did you meet Emily – founder of Air Physiotherapy?

I met Emily when we were both working at the Royal Brompton Hospital around 2012.  We both continued our rotations separately and then came together again when working on paediatrics in 2014 – an area new to both of us so we spent a lot of time on the steep learning curve together during that rotation! It was during this time I would say that our friendship really blossomed!

I left within 4 months of starting this rotation after being promoted to a Band 7, and then just over two years later I left the NHS altogether and joined the private sector.

How did you become part of Air Physiotherapy?

It’s amazing how life works out! I remember chatting with Emily about starting up Air Physiotherapy and I was filled with excitement and admiration for what she was trying to do, and I believe I may have actually referred her first patient to her!

As Emily got busier she needed an extra pair of hands to see patients and I started working for her in April 2018. My skills are the perfect fit for Air Physiotherapy patients.

What’s it like working at Air Physiotherapy?

I can honestly say it’s given me a whole new perspective on being a physiotherapist. Initially I was only seeing patients at their home which was a hugely different experience to hospital work which I had been doing for 13 years. I loved the feeling that I could provide the patient with exactly what they needed, and as often as they needed it. It was great having time to get to know my patients properly and finding what makes them tick. I could then use this to gain the best possible results from their treatment.

My daughter started school in September of this year which prompted me to want to reduce my hours in the hospital I was working at. To be able to make this viable, Emily offered for me to take over her respiratory outpatient clinic which runs one afternoon a week seeing patients for airway clearance advice, as well as patients with breathing pattern disorders.

So it is a case of “the only way is up”?!

It definitely is! Air Physiotherapy has continued to go from strength to strength in the time since I joined and I took the decision to work solely for Emily just two months ago.  This has not only allowed me to increase my time at home with my daughter, but working for Air Physiotherapy has rekindled a huge passion for my work as a physiotherapist and I can honestly say it has probably been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Working with Emily is a joy. She’s a real inspiration to me – what she’s achieved in such a short space of time is incredible. I feel very lucky to be working for someone who’s such an amazing clinician, mentor and boss. She’s a special lady!

I always tell my patients, as well as my family and friends, that working is now no longer a job – it’s become my hobby! I can’t think of a better way to be!