When a Patient Refuses to Work with a Student
I guess my initiation as a PT student is finally complete -- today was the first time a patient refused to work with me after I informed him that I was a student. In a way, I'm surprised it's taken a year and a half for that to happen. At the same time, it was completely unexpected and I'm sure my facial expression didn't hide my surprise. This was the first time someone demonstrated even slight unease at being treated by me, a student, let alone completely refusing.
After I got over the initial embarrassment and slight annoyance, I took some time to think about the situation and I didn't take it personally. I actually wondered whether I'd do the same thing if I didn't know anything about physical therapy or what my treatment would entail. This particular patient was just a few days out from a total knee replacement and in a lot of pain. I can imagine that any sort of uncertainty or perceived "subpar" care was the last thing he was interested in. At first, I felt myself becoming slightly defensive but I'm proud of myself for handling the situation professionally and with a lot of understanding (even if it wasn't necessarily how I was feeling inside).
This whole experience was a very valuable lesson in displaying confidence in my skills and also in dealing with patients when they are unhappy with you. I was a bit timid with the next few patients who came in, but I had to remind myself that while I'm not yet a fully licensed physical therapist, I'm still a capable and intelligent person. A year ago, I probably would have had a very different reaction. It's amazing to see how far I've come in such a short time.