Retraining – Rosanna, Reflexologist

My name is Rosanna; I’m 43 and married with two boys, Ollie 10 and Harry 7 as well as 2 cats and 5 chickens .We live in Maidenhead in Berkshire.

Rosanna

Your job title:  I’m a Reflexologist and run my own Complementary Therapies and products business from home.

What did you do before: I was a Research Scientist at Imperial College in London. I spent many happy years studying and received a PhD in Infectious Diseases in 2000. I then continued working in academic science looking for new targets for vaccines and antibiotics, until leaving science in 2006.

What made you go into your new chosen career?: I loved my research career but began to think about retraining when my first son was born in 2003. I went back to work 4 days a week when Ollie was 6 months old and had a really supportive boss. But I found it hard balancing all the time and energy my work took, plus commuting into London, with spending enough time with my baby. In the end I decided to leave science and find a more family friendly career.

I chose to retrain as a reflexologist as I had been having regular treatments for several years and had found it hugely beneficial to my health and sanity! As a scientist I didn’t really understand how reflexology worked and was really excited to find out more about it.

What did you want to do when you were a child? I wanted to be a doctor! But I changed my mind when I saw what it was really like on the first ever reality show, which followed medical students at St Mary’s hospital. It feels like I have now come full circle and am doing the job that I have always been meant to do: supporting and encouraging people to recover from ill health and to cope better with life’s other stresses and challenges.

What you needed to do to change career: I needed to complete a professionally recognised reflexology-training course, which included academic study as well as plenty of hands on training and case studies.

Any qualifications gained: I gained a level 3 Diploma in Reflexology and then joined the Association of Reflexologists.

What was involved with study (Was it on the job/evening): There are different ways of studying for the diploma – most take around a year. I opted to do a course that had training weekends every 6 weeks with homework in between. The study weekends worked well for me as I got to have a break from childcare and immersed myself in reflexology, while my husband looked after the children. As I started training when my youngest was just 3 months old, it was a challenge to fit in all the homework and case studies, but my tutors were very supportive and gave me extra time to complete the course.

How hard was passing your course?: I found the academic component interesting and fairly straightforward because of my scientific background. The biggest challenge was finding the time and energy to complete homework assignments and later my reflexology case studies around the needs of my two young boys. My husband was very supportive and took the boys out most Saturday mornings so that I could study.

Is your new career what you imagined it would be?: It is even better than I could have hoped! It is incredibly rewarding, every day is different and I have discovered that I really love planning my own time and running my own business.

Are you glad you have changed?: I am so glad that I took the leap and changed careers – much as I loved my old job, my new career manages to encompass everything that I enjoy doing. I have also brought all the skills and experience from my first career into my new one – so my clients reap the benefit as I am able to help them understand their health, medication, stress and fertility issues from a biological point of view and as well as from a holistic viewpoint.

Can you tell us an average day: I’m naturally a morning person, so I wake up early and help my children get up and ready for school. Once I have dropped them off, I get my treatment room ready (which is in an extension at the back of my house) and officially enter work mode! My day is generally made up of a combination of reflexology appointments as well as business admin, marketing, researching health conditions and studying for further qualifications. I then pick my boys up from school and spend several relaxed hours with them (except when we are on a homework deadline!) And then 2-3 days a week I fit in one or two evening clients, at which point my husband takes over and puts the children to bed.

Does it offer a good work/life balance?: It offers a really good work/life balance, so long as I am disciplined with my diary and don’t end up taking on too much! I love the fact that I can drop off and pick up my children from school and be around for them in the afternoons. I have chosen to work several evenings during the week – which is necessary as many of my clients work, but I do now tend to keep my weekends free so that we now have more time together as a family.

How does your new role work with child care?: It works brilliantly. Before the boys started school, I planned my work around their nursery hours and naps and had evening clients when they were tucked up in bed. As they have got older, things have changed and I can now get a lot more done during the school day. During the school holidays, I generally try to do far less day time clients and more evenings, putting my boys into holiday clubs for a day or two a week so that I can keep things ticking over.

What is the hardest thing about your new career?: Running my own business means that my mind is often buzzing with thoughts and new ideas and so I tend to work late into the evening. This means that I can feel a bit tired and grouchy with my children the following morning! In terms of being a Reflexologist, the hardest thing to handle is listening to some very sad events that have happened in client’s lives (such as the loss of a baby or a terminal illness). This can take an emotional toll and play on my mind. So I make sure that I regularly meet up with other local therapist to share and unload and I also have regular reflexology treatments myself.

What is the favourite part of your role: Seeing my clients change and start to feel better both emotionally and physically. Often they will achieve a much wanted goal such as being more confident, less stressed, feeling healthier or becoming pregnant. The absolute best feeling in the world is when a client tells me they are pregnant with a longed for baby. I often then get to treat them all through the pregnancy and when I finally meet the baby it is just pure joy!! I am also constantly inspired by clients who demonstrate how well they can cope with some very challenging health and life issues with just a little support from some reflexology.

How long have you been doing your new role?: I have been a Reflexologist for 5 years now – although this time seems to have really flown by.

What advice would you have for others thinking about embarking on the same career?:  If you are thinking about training to be a Reflexologist or other Complementary Therapist, then I would suggest having some treatments with different therapists in different settings (mobile, home treatment room, in a clinic) – all in the name of research of course!! Quiz them about how they feel about their job, where they trained and see if you can picture yourself in the job. In my experience us therapists are very enthusiastic about what we do and are more than happy to chat about it. Look for professional reflexologists and courses in your area by contacting the Association of Reflexologists (www.aor.org.uk). In my opinion it is crucial to find a good course that allows you to join a professional association.

I would also advise you to give yourself some time and space to make your decision about changing career (this is where sampling some reflexology can come in handy as it gives you some time out from a busy life and can help calm the mind and bring clarity about important decisions). I can honestly say that changing career was the best decision I ever made – but I needed some quiet time away from work and family to see the bigger picture and make the decision to retrain.

Are there any changes to your finances that you would like to share?:  I currently earn less than I did before, but I work fewer hours, have more flexible hours and earn more per hour. I also have very low childcare costs, as I can fit my work in around my children.

Is it hard to set up a business working for yourself?: I found it easy to set up as self-employed and have got the advice I needed along the way as things have grown and changed. There are not many start-up costs for qualified Reflexologists – mainly a treatment table, somewhere to work, insurance and a website/facebook page.

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Was there a risk involved in changing career?:  I did take a financial risk as I opted to leave a well-paid job in the middle of a 5-year contract and was at that point the higher earner. But I did have a lot of childcare and commuting costs at the time. So I calculated how much I was actually bringing home after these costs and made this a goal for how much I needed to earn each month to keep contributing to our household earnings. This strategy helped me to persuade my husband that we would be able to manage financially! At the beginning I took on a one-day a week admin job so that we weren’t totally reliant on my fluctuating self-employed earnings and this meant that I always able to meet my monthly earnings target.

There was also the risk that it could have potentially been hard to get back into my research career should my career change not go to plan. But at the end of the day I just decided to go for it!

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known before embarking on this chosen career?  I wish I had fully understand the importance of work/life boundaries especially if you are working from home. Initially I gave clients far too much choice of when they could see me, now I have learnt to keep to strict working hours and I also only answer emails and the phone within specific times.

Would you be interested in offering advice to anyone thinking of doing the same things?  I had a lot of helpful chats and constructive advice from other women while I was retraining, so I would be more than happy to do the same for anyone thinking of retraining as a Complementary Therapist. Feel free to contact me  via my website at: www.happierhealthieryou.co.uk

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