Blog: Asian, female and a physio – how did I get ahead in Orthopaedics?

By: Anju Jaggi:  Consultant Physiotherapist/Deputy Director of AHP R&D

Physiotherapy has always been a female dominated profession. However that hasn’t always resulted with women in the top roles such as team physios, academics or clinical leaders – especially within the field of musculoskeletal health.

I joined the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital 25 years ago in a culture of hierarchy, professional and gender stereotypes.

A select few broke that mould and these individuals encouraged a team spirit, mutual respect, nurtured and supported talent regardless of grade or profession.

For a young physio starting out, to have a consultant orthopaedic surgeon not only ask, but also value my opinion was so encouraging and inspiring. I grew to love managing shoulder conditions, its complexity and importance of multi-disciplinary care which has continued to evolve through my career.

Mentors throughout challenged my thinking, and provided me with opportunities. They  continually believed in me even if I didn’t always believe in myself. These mentors were men and women  – what they all had in common was their work ethic, modesty and strive to do better.

We all need people who believe in us – whether that’s parents, a teacher, a friend, a colleague  – we also need to believe in ourselves. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.

I am proud and honoured to have been appointed as one of the first physiotherapy consultants and to have such a role at a specialist orthopaedic hospital.

Orthopaedics has evolved and matured as a speciality, with a realisation that it’s not just a ‘nuts & bolts’ speciality. Pain is a far more complex picture recognising the patient’s psychological and social needs. Surgery is a complex decision with the patient central, within a multi-disciplinary team, to achieve the right intervention at the right time for the best outcome.

Bringing a diverse workforce to the field of orthopaedics is central to achieving this. Creating diversity is about recognising individuality, embracing differences, nurturing, and supporting talent no matter the ethnicity, gender or profession.

The field of musculoskeletal health is an exciting place to be and the opportunities for women are ever expanding and exciting!



Anju is a Consultant Physiotherapist with clinical expertise in shoulder problems, she is also the research & innovation lead for allied health professionals at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). She has worked at the RNOH for 25 years, known nationally for managing patients with complex atraumatic shoulder instability and pain. She has lectured internationally and presented at numerous scientific meetings. She has published work in the field of shoulder rehabilitation, co-supervised post graduate student projects and is involved in several funded research studies collaborating with commercial and academic partners, one of which was the NIHR GRASP trial. She is currently leading a randomised clinical trial on the role of surgery in atraumatic shoulder instability with the surgical team at the RNOH in collaboration with Prof Ginn at Sydney University. She holds a clinical teaching fellow post at University College London (UCL). She was President of the European Society of Shoulder & Elbow Rehabilitation (EUSSER) from 2012-2015, served on a NICE Committee 2018-2020, AHP representative  on the British Shoulder & Elbow Society (BESS) Council (2018-2021). She was awarded the BESS Copeland fellowship in 2020.  She is currently a board member for the RNOH Charity. She has a passion for promoting evidence based care as well as globally promoting physical therapy and rehabilitation.