A large department brings together varied personalities and cultures, which can create a work environment that may be less than desirable for some employees to deal with. This has not been the case as yet; however, many distinct variables exist that have the potential to harm teamwork and communication within the system.
Initially, my thoughts were that different disciplines may not always agree with each other regarding certain aspects of patient care. On the contrary, each discipline is able to make recommendations within its scope of practice to enhance the patient experience and positively affect outcomes. What I've noticed is the difference of opinions within each discipline, and this has me somewhat perplexed.
As a physical therapist for the past 23 years, I've developed my own set of skills and preferences for treatment. I would consider myself a seasoned therapist who knows my limitations. On the other hand, I'm not afraid to take on a patient who others don't have experience with, such as a client with a TMJ dysfunction, or another patient with a pelvic pain syndrome. Within my own discipline, I've noticed that PTs with fewer years out of school have their own specialty, such as manual skills, orthopedics, or neurological patient care.
I can respect this, but since we've all been trained in general patient care, we should be able to at least perform a thorough evaluation and examination, as well as create a patient care plan and determine an appropriate therapy diagnosis. When all else fails, and a particular patient comes in for an evaluation, any therapist can do an evaluation and refer to an appropriate therapist to most effectively intervene on the patient's behalf.
What better way to keep our general skills in check than to accept the patient with a not-so-familiar diagnosis on our schedule? This is an area that I feel many of us shy away from. What I'd like to foster is a learning environment, and share our knowledge with each other in a non-threatening way so we can continue to grow as we mature in the field of rehabilitative medicine.
By doing so, we create increased communication and teamwork with other disciplines, but most importantly within our own discipline. Challenging ourselves may even spark an interest in other areas of specialization, as well as open other opportunities for the future. In the long run, our patients may be better off with differing clinical opinions, which possibly create opportunities for them in their recovery.