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Toni Talks about PT Today

This Department is in Crisis

Published July 16, 2008 11:02 AM by Toni Patt
I'm working in an acute care rehab department this month. It is in crisis. There has been a leadership void for three weeks because a decision was made to change the direction of the department. As so often happens in these situations, the manager was asked to leave.  Upper management wanted to bring in someone new. These decisions have created hard feelings among the rehab staff. There is talk of how patient care will suffer as a result. I haven't seen that. What I have seen is a lack of professionalism on the part of the PTs and OTs.

I'm worried about this department. It used to be one of my favorites. Everyone got along and the work was evenly divided. All the therapists took pride in and ownership of their work. Effort was made to provide quality care in a professional manner. This is not so any more. Therapists are no longer taking responsibility for their work. Care continues to be provided but no one will go beyond the immediate demands of providing that care. No one has been willing to take some responsibility and hold things together. Instead each person is focused on his or her little fiefdom and can't be bothered with anything else.

Right now there are four PTAs in the department. There are three fulltime PTs and no one is taking any responsibility with them. While PTAs work independently for the most part they need a therapist to be available. They need someone to go to with a question or a concern.  That isn't happening with these three. Yes, they'll answer questions. One talks down to them. One prefers to boss them around telling them she is the therapist and they should do as she says. The third is always too busy.  I have a new responsibility now. They call me. I'm fine with this. It's part of my job.

I'm not fine with the passive aggressiveness I'm seeing from everyone else. It looks to me that everyone has developed tunnel vision where job duties stop at providing patient care. If they think they're hurting the hospital, they're not. No one will notice. I think this needs to stop.  There is more to being a PT than providing care and writing notes. When someone accepts a job they accept all the responsibilities that are a part of it. Letting things fall apart because someone is mad at administration is unprofessional. These aren't new grads, who might not know better, but individuals with 15+ years experience each.  It's time they start acting like it.

The new manager starts this week. He has a battle ahead of him. I hope he hits the ground running and turns things around. This department needs someone to come in and lead by example. He needs to get everyone to understand it's time to move on. I would say something if I thought anyone would listen.  I'd like to tell them if you're so unhappy it's time to leave. Some of them probably will eventually. Patient care is going to suffer. PTs are in the process of assuming a larger role in patient care. For that to happen this kind of stuff has to stop.


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