How Better Rehab supports our female clinicians’ goals and aspirations

International Women’s Day, held each year on March 8, provides an opportunity to reveal how Better Rehab supports gender equality/closes the gender gap

On International Women’s Day (IWD) and every other day of the year at Better Rehab, we celebrate and recognise the achievements and unwavering dedication of our female Clinicians and take the opportunity to share how we support them to excel in their roles and achieve their career aspirations. 

Gender inequality persisting in Australia’s healthcare sector

Despite studies that have found that gender equality in healthcare benefits both healthcare workers and participants/patients in many ways, including improving quality of care, healthcare outcomes and organisational performance, inequality persists.

With around 75 per cent of healthcare workers in Australia being female, gender equality in participation in this sector is not an issue, however some will face gender inequality at some point in their career, as women continue to experience gender bias and stereotyping and underrepresentation in leadership and decision-making roles (only about a third of these positions are held by women).  

The reasons for this are varied and include entrenched gender bias and operating procedures that maintain an almost impenetrable glass ceiling and a lack of support for women’s career progression from within companies and organisations.

Bridging the gender gap at Better Rehab

Better Rehab founder and Director Rachel Brimblecombe has long been aware of the influential role a supportive workplace environment can play in closing the gender gap and believes affirmative action is needed from the top down to nurture gender equality. In fact, she credits Better Rehab’s supportive environment as a key factor for the company’s ability to provide exceptional support for participants – and for helping propel it to become one Australia’s top five Allied Health Providers. 

According to Monash University’s Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership initiative (AWHL), a supportive workplace culture is essential for closing the gender gap, as it helps women achieve their career goals and secure leadership roles. Their research has also found that gender equity in healthcare leadership improves employee motivation and retention and quality of care for patients and participants.   

“When female Clinicians see women in leadership roles, it can make them feel career advancement is possible for them. We value and respect all our Clinicians, regardless of their gender or gender identity and recognise that it’s their expertise and efforts that support our participants to achieve their goals,” says Rachel. 

Gender equality via a supportive environment

Better Rehab maintains a work environment that supports all Clinicians, regardless of their gender or gender identity, to progress their careers and has several initiatives in place – many of which are industry leading and firsts – that help them prepare for senior and leadership roles.  

And the proof that this approach is working is, as they say, ‘in the pudding’, with females comprising over 60 per cent of the company’s senior leaders, with most promoted from within (which is around double the national figure). 

Support for career development and advancement at Better Rehab includes equal access to:

  • Mentoring and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to help grow skills, competence, and confidence (AWHL has found that providing women with mentorship opportunities is essential for helping them advance their careers and achieve their career goals). 
  • Experience working within multidisciplinary teams, which can strengthen and broaden skills and knowledge. 
  • Opportunities for continued and further learning, including in-house training sessions and presentations; four paid study leave days each year; funding for external professional development opportunities; and 24/7 access to an in-house online learning hub designed by and for Clinicians. 
  • Leadership programs and training to prepare Clinicians for these roles, including supervisor upskilling programs, Team Leader Training pathways, and Clinical Supervision Courses 
  • An annual leadership retreat that supports leaders and further career progression. 
  • A supportive, inclusive, and safe workplace where colleagues feel comfortable to share wins and challenges, take time out to recharge, and let off steam. 
  • Team building and bonding opportunities to strengthen collaboration, inclusion, and support. 
  • Provision of programs that assist with maintaining health and wellbeing including wellbeing days, an Employee Assistance Program, Health Club subsidies and Private health insurance. 
  • Paid parental leave (6 in 10 companies provide primary carer’s leave and just over half provide secondary carer’s leave in addition to the Federal Government paid parental leave scheme). 
  • Flexibility, work-from-home options and autonomy with work schedules. Better Rehab’s Better Flex Program is an industry-leading initiative that supports its Clinicians to enjoy better work-life balance
  • Long-term unpaid ‘passionate leave’ to enable Clinicians to take an extended break from work, perhaps to travel, pursue a personal project, look after a loved one, or rejuvenate and recharge, without breaking their continuity of service. 
  • Better Rehab’s fifth company value, We Values Ourselves – created by and for the company’s Clinicians – adds another layer of support by encouraging and reminding them to value themselves – their skills, knowledge, time and efforts. 

In addition to nurturing career advancement, support at work can help reduce the likelihood of career burnout, a type of debilitating work-related stress that can lead to Clinicians resigning or taking extended breaks from work, which in turn can affect their professional development and career advancement. 

Greater flexibility for better work-life balance  

Like many women in Australia, Rachel juggles work and family and is aware that women bear the burden of care. This and her desire to give her Clinicians increased autonomy drove her to create the Better Flex Program

“Better Flex enables all our Clinicians to fit in work around their family commitments and all those life moments no-one wants to, or should, miss,” explains Rachel. 

Rachel has more initiatives in the pipeline to further support all her Clinicians, regardless of gender or gender identity.  “We have some of the best Clinicians in the industry, and I’m committed to supporting their goals and aspirations and helping ensure they sustain their energy and passion for their work and family.” 

Better Rehab Clinician spotlight: Kirsten Burke, Allied Health Manager and National Clinical Lead – Physiotherapist 

Since joining Better Rehab as a Senior Physiotherapist, Kirsten has experienced a career trajectory that has seen promotion supported by Better Rehab from day one through various roles including Principal Clinician and National Clinical Lead. 

And in her current role of Allied Health Manager, where she is responsible for overseeing the service development and clinical governance of Better Rehab, Kirsten is ‘giving back’ by helping nurture the career progression of Better Rehab’s Clinicians, including managing their clinical training and upskilling and mentoring. 

Kirsten is equally passionate about supporting participants to achieve their goals, particularly ensuring vulnerable communities have access to appropriate, high-quality support. And like Rachel, Kirsten ensures all clinicians are supported equally and have the same opportunities for career development. 

“I’m passionate about supporting Clinicians to thrive in their roles, reducing unnecessary cognitive load so they can love what they do and become the best therapists they can be. I’m also a strong advocate of empathetic, safe, vulnerable leadership with firm, clear accountability, and supporting and nurturing people to thrive and grow. I believe in creating safe environments for making mistakes to help our Clinicians learn, while supporting them to identify and mitigate risks early. 

“I love Better Rehab because I get to be surrounded by a variety of people with different strengths, interests and skills but who all have the betterment of the world at the core of why they do what they do, and, in particular, creating a world that is more inclusive of everyone.” explains Kirsten. 

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