Case study

Animal physiotherapist — Artaine Harte

Over the past three years Artaine has enhanced her canine remedial therapy business to offer the full range of animal physiotherapy treatments

How did you get your job?

I have been self-employed for several years and animal physiotherapy seemed like a natural next step from remedial therapy.

I enrolled onto a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) course at the College of Animal Physiotherapy. The programme involved independent learning, as well as twenty days of on-site study, shadowing and practice.

How relevant is your diploma to your job?

The diploma, or an alternative qualification, is essential. Without it I wouldn't know what to do.

What are your main work activities?

I work with small animals and the job is very varied. I treat mainly dogs and cats; however, I've also worked with rabbits and ferrets and even treated a rat.

My typical working day starts at 9.30am. I prepare my notes and equipment, and if it's a studio day, I also prepare my studio for clients. Otherwise, I am on my way to the RSPCA, where I treat patients, as well as educate staff on how to continue the animal massage and/or exercise regimes when I am not there.

My lunch break is taken up with travel to a local surgery, where I see more patients. The work involves continuous assessment and the measuring of outcomes to make sure that the therapies are effective, as well as making sure the owners are confident in continuing the animal's physiotherapy regime at home, carrying out treatments using different modalities, and completing notes from all my appointments.

I aim to finish at about 7pm, but once at home I usually have some administration work to complete, or emails to send.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy seeing animals improve and have an enhanced quality of life. I also particularly enjoy teaching owners therapy procedures. Occasionally, the owners come back and tell me that looking after their pets using the techniques I taught them has improved their relationship with their animal - such feedback is always particularly rewarding to hear.

What are the most challenging parts?

Running my own business means that I mainly work alone, and this can be particularly challenging, as there is often no one to bounce ideas off. However, I am part of several professional bodies, and they are very supportive.

Additionally, things such as annual leave can be hard to arrange. I do not feel I can have long periods of annual leave, as there would be no one to continue treatments.

How has your role developed?

My business, Gloucestershire Small Animal Physiotherapy, has evolved from just offering canine remedial therapy to the full range of animal physiotherapy procedures.

However, there is always room for personal growth. I have started teaching continuous professional development (CPD) training days, as well as supporting animal physiotherapy students.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Prior to starting your training, get as much work experience as you can, particularly in a veterinary setting. Consider training routes and make sure that the qualification you are getting is well recognised.

If you're thinking of starting your own business - be patient. It'll take time to become established. Forging good relationships will be essential, so you will need to have excellent communication skills.

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