Saanichton Physical Therapy Blog

Confessions of a Physical Therapist

Confessions of a Physical Therapist

Strewn across the floor a few journals and text books indicated that I had a new patient the next day. The preparation that went into my days was amazing. My focus: always be perceived as knowledgeable. It’s almost like I had to prove myself and be the solution source. Somewhere, somehow this “be knowledgeable” flavor changed.

Over time, I learned it was completely ludicrous to spend evenings preparing for the next day. Why was it ludicrous? Very simple: schedules change… diagnoses are wrong… so, the focus changed. My focus: always be perceived as confident. Why not? As long as I knew where to look and could find the answers, why waste my time researching the unknown without all the details.  I continue to have a bit of the “confidence” flavor, because it serves its purpose, but it no longer dominates.

Oh my goodness, there was the technique focus. You all have been there… the “my left hand is supposed to be proximal to L5 while my right thumb is blah, blah, blah.” My focus: be perceived as manually magical. Well, we know research as reduced that flavor. Beneficial outcomes are achieved without some rigid, perfect manual performance.

Then there was my die hard attitude strongly favoring research and evidence. Flexing my clinical behaviors to fully exemplify the newly learned material. My focus: to be perceived as the best.

Do you see that as I went through various flavor changes there was one factor consistent? It was all about me… how I was perceived. Pretty darn selfish of me. I’m not going to berate myself over the immaturity of my flavors. I’m pretty sure I was the typical product of our educational system and what was entailed to be highly relevant in order to be successful.

As I self-reflect over a lot of years and look back, the most important aspect of my career was included in a very passive role. My focus was solely on me… how I was perceived… how I perceived myself. Silly me… I never assessed how anyone perceived me, so all that energy and drive to meet my focus was never actually measured.

All of my flavorful focuses are relevant to a degree. My main focus should have been on the patient. My main focus should have been on listening and hearing the patient’s story. My main focus should have been on serving the patient and discussing options and sharing what outcomes would probably occur with each option. The choice is fully the patient’s, not mine. I had it all wrong in my younger years… I’m in the people business. Nothing I do is about or should be about me – it’s about them. Why didn’t our educational system include aspects that would help us shine in the people business?

Look what people want from health care. I loved hearing Leana Wen, MD took time to hear stories from the people she met. In our field, in order to mesh the patients’ stories with our skill, knowledge & talent, we need a highly desirable level of emotional intelligence.

I’m seeing a trend for inclusion of the concept of emotional intelligence within our interactions. Hopefully it becomes a robust flavor… I can only imagine what will happen in the future as we strengthen our emotional intelligence IQ.