'Knowledge is Power'
The English philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon is credited with coining the phrase, "Scientia Potestas Est" or "Knowledge is Power." Three words that are as true today as they were in 1597 when he first uttered them. To me, being an educated individual means more than being minimally competent at something. It means demonstrating a true understanding of whatever subject matter is at hand.
Way back in 2008, when I was but a lowly PT student, I recall treating a 5-year-old boy who had been in a car accident and suffered a high cervical spinal cord injury. He was in the hospital for nearly two months recovering before he transferred to a subacute facility, and throughout his stay, his parents would often ask questions like, "When will he breathe on his own again?" or "When should we expect him to be walking again?"
It broke my heart that this innocent little child's life had been so rapidly altered. However, it was almost even more unnerving that even after weeks in the hospital, no one had answered the parents' basic questions. As a PT student, I knew the answer to many of these questions, but was told that I should defer them to the physicians at this particular hospital. Needless to say, the family left for the subacute facility having had none of their questions answered.
Knowledge is power, right? And if I have knowledge that would benefit my patients, shouldn't I offer it to them, so they can make the best decisions possible for themselves? I have seen quite often in acute care, therapists or other healthcare professionals (and yes even I am guilty of this) brush off patients' questions and say things like, "Sometimes that just happens" or "Well, you are getting older."
In such an information-hungry age, this can no longer be acceptable. So, I'm issuing a challenge to all the therapists and healthcare professionals out there, myself included. Don't just be a therapist, nurse or physician. Be a teacher too. Be humble and take the time to educate your patients so they can not only make the most informed decisions possible, but also take that information and hopefully make better decisions about their health in the future. Knowledge is power, and when we talk about healthcare, shouldn't the power lie with the patient?