It’s officially been one year.
Last May I graduated from PT school, last July I found out I passed my board exam and became a licensed PT, and last August I started working my first [paid] PT job. As with anything, it felt like the days dragged by while the year itself flew. Though I am still a new physical therapist and new to the professional workforce, I have learned a lot over the past year. There are certain things that I have observed/experienced and certain types of people that I have encountered thus far. So, I have put together a list of lessons that the past year has taught me:
- “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” -This is my top lesson of the year. I can’t tell you how many times a patient has been skeptical about physical therapy (and probably me because of how young I am!), but I have been able to get them to buy into it by showing them that I genuinely care about their well-being. When they realized how much I truly wanted to help them, they were more open to hearing what I had to say.
- “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”-On a similar note as #1, if you are good to peopleand make them feel special, they will always remember that. I make it a point to always remember my patient’s names and stories and always make personal conversation with them when they come to therapy. I don’t want them to feel like just another patient in my day, but someone that I truly care about helping.
- Some days “therapy” is the keyword in physical therapy. -I have learned that often, all people really need is a listening ear, a shoulder to ry on, and a friend to laugh with. Sometimes their bodies feel better from you just giving them that. The effects of stress and depression on one’s body are not to be taken lightly. If you brighten someone’s day and allow them a therapeutic venting session, sometimes that alone makes the difference.
- “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” -It is so easy to get into the habit of treating every condition in a similar fashion instead of treating the patient as an individual. The number one question I like to ask in an initial evaluation (the patient’s first appointment) is “What are your goals? What things are most important to you to get back to doing?” I want to make sure that I tailor my treatment sessions to meet these needs and get the patient actually motivated to achieve these goals during therapy.
- Disturbers of peace will challenge you daily. -One particular day at work, I was having a really hard time dealing with someone being demeaning and trying to undermine my work. My co-worker told me about how the weekend before, her pastor preached about how some people are “disturbers of peace” and they will test you in life. You have to choose how their words and actions will affect you. My mood and feelings used to be brought down by people like this, but now I have chosen to keep my chin up and continue to power through my day.
- “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” -Word of mouth is definitely the most powerful seller of a business. I honestly believe that if you do a good enough job of treating your patients and making therapy a positive experience for them, your company will sell itself. Sometimes companies get so caught up in marketing to doctor’s offices, that they lose sight of this.
- “Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work.” -This is so important. If your employees don’t feel valued and respected when they walk through the door everyday, it will cause a trickle down effect to the customers. No matter how much your business grows, never forget that you are only as successful as the people you employee. Treat your employees well and make sure they know that you appreciate them every now and then.
- “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” -This pretty much echoes the sentiments of #7, but I had to throw it in here because it is one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes 🙂 Never forget the people it takes to run your day to day operations…a business is just an empty space without them.
- There is way too much bashing and hostility n the healthcare community. -I follow several physical therapy boards online and it always amazes me how hateful people can be about other health professions. I personally have had a few encounters with hateful people like this in my daily work. Recently, I had an MD bash the physical therapy profession and question our intelligence/the legitimacy of us getting such an advanced degree. It was hurtful and unnecessary. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and there will be both good and bad clinicians representing every profession, but in the end we are all on the same team. We all [hopefully] go into work everyday to help people and make them feel better, so we are all working towards the same goal.
- Don’t let the fast nature of the current healthcare industry make you forget your “bedside manner.” -Though it is unfortunate and sad, the current state of our healthcare system makes it necessary for clinicians to get patients in and out quickly for profitable insurance reimbursement. In a normal day in an outpatient clinic, I see a person every half hour, so I could see up to 16 patients in a normal 8 hr shift. That’s not even counting the 16 other possible patients I have to supervise that one of my assistants are treating (I had 2 assistants for most of this year, so that is 32 additional possible patients) and all of the notes that have to be written for every single one of those patients. That’s a heck of a lot of things going on and of course every thing has to be finished in a timely manner as well. I have patients come in on a daily basis and complain to me about how when they go to other doctors and clinicians, they are rushed through the process and barely get enough time with the practitioner to ask them the questions they came in to address. I know how much of a hustle and bustle business the healthcare field is, but I hope that all healthcare professionals will remember that bedside manner and just plain people-skills are still (and always will be) crucial to patient care.
Until next time, keep on the sunny side.