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Toni Talks about PT Today

Now Hear This

Published November 2, 2007 8:55 AM by Toni Patt
I've been a therapist for many years having graduated in the 1980s.  I've seen things change.  Trends have come and gone.  In many cases what we do now didn't exist then.  I've seen my profession grow to a major component in modern health care.  I've seen good therapists, bad therapists and a few I'd call exceptional.  But only recently have I seen this.  Therapists who've stopped caring about what they do.

What has happened?  When did we place money over providing care?  When did we start choosing continuing educations courses because they were cheap and easy rather than to learn something?  Why is it acceptable to pass off challenging, time consuming patients for the quick and easy ones? ( I'll have more to say on this one later.) When did hot pack, ultrasound and massage take the place of good old hands on?  Certainly some blame lies squarely at the feet of the payment sources.  More blame lies on health care facilities who value numbers over quality.  Ultimately it is the individual therapist who makes these decisions not Medicare, administration or any other outside force.

This isn't everyone.  There are so many good people out there who would do anything for a patient.  But there are those who don't care.  Or, maybe they just don't know any better.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  The ones who suffer are the same ones who depend upon us the most, our patients.  If we're not going to help them, who will?  Everyone takes the occasional cheap course or cuts a few corners.  One of the buzz words for this phenomenon is disengagement.  I have a few different ones: burned out, exhausted, fed up and indifferent. For those of you falling into option number four, I have a message.  Get it together or get out.  And please, take those therapists who only know one way of doing things and don't want to know another with you.

3 comments

 I agree with Brian that many young people go into PT because of the availablility of jobs and decent starting salary but it's hard to put a price tag on compassion.

 I am hopeful that the same doesn't happen with nursing because of the demand and the flexible schedules ( 12 hr/3day work week ).  

alan, inpatient - PT November 26, 2007 9:11 PM
San Diego CA

Could it be that therapists in long term care facilities feel their work is not as successful as those who work in more acute care type of facilities.  Our work at Restorative Medical (RMI) is primarily with patients who suffer with neurological tone.  These are patients who have diagnoses like CP, MS, TBI, SCI, Parkinson's, Post CVA, and end stage Alzheimer's disease.  Our results are remarkable and we actually see therapists, nurses and RNAs demeanors improve as they realize they can be a very important part of helping to improve the quality of life for their patients, of all ages, who before were thought to be doomed to existing with twisted and deformed bodies.  I choose to believe that most people who go into healthcare just need to feel they are making a positive impact on their patients.  When you are assessing patients and writing their plan of care, do not limit your patients potential success with your lack of imagination.  Be HOLISTIC and look at all the possibilities, then take one step at a time.  As your patient achieves one step, continue them to the next with good team health care approaches.  You will be amazed how your enthusiam and patient successes will be contagious and the attitudes of an entire facility can be changed.  It only takes one person to make a negative impact on an entire facility - and it only takes one to start positive improvements.  What a responsibility!  

Karen Bonn, Contracture Management - President, Restorative Medical, Inc. November 7, 2007 10:15 AM
Brandenburg KY

I think that the PT's I see that fit the don't care category are the burnt out ones, or the ones that got into PT school because it was a "hot" job in the magazines and wanted big bucks- then got  a hard dose of reality once they hit the market; they chose the wrong profession and are basically stuck. Their patient care reflects their career motivation.

brian, ortho - PT, outpatient November 6, 2007 4:25 PM
Milwaukee WI

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