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PT on the Run

When the Teacher Becomes the Patient

Published March 7, 2014 5:17 PM by Michael Kelley

I had an interesting experience at work this week. I had a patient who started asking me all sorts of questions about where I went to school and whether I was paid well and things like that. I asked this patient if they were familiar with the PT profession. Their response was a cryptic and simple "yes." Then I asked (rather cryptically, I might say), "How familiar?" The patient then informed me they were a professor at one of the local universities in the PT department. Then they looked me in the eye and said, "And I'm a PT too." Almost immediately I felt like everything I did was being examined under a microscope. The patient was very polite and professional, but I just couldn't help feeling like I was being judged.

Has anyone else had this type of experience... where the "student becomes the teacher," so to speak? I think I handled myself well. I provided appropriate interventions and treatments and tried to offer the patient reassurance that their various ailments were being taken into consideration by the medical team. But still, there was that nagging feeling like if I screwed up even in the slightest way, the patient was going to call up Marquette University and file a complaint about the quality of education I received. Could I have done anything different? I wonder how other healthcare professionals feel when they have to treat the "elders" of their profession.

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