I saw a woman wearing an ACL knee brace... and two-inch wedge heel shoes. It would seem to me that if I had to wear a monstrosity on my leg just to stay upright, common sense would dictate I would also wear flat shoes. Perhaps I assign reason and logic to "common sense" that is really "medical training sense."
Takeaway Lesson #1: Do not assume my client has what I would consider common sense. It may only be common sense to those who have had the same training as I have.
As I contemplated my role in opening a conversation with a complete stranger, I realized that my responsibility as a health care professional is to educate my client. That seems like a common-sense statement, doesn't it? On par with, don't wear heels when you can't stand up without help! But the truth is that I often forget the sweet simplicity of my job; and in the process I complicate life for me and my client.
I don't just want to inform my client; I want to present the information in such a way that the person makes the "right" decision - the only decision that makes sense given the facts. I take personal responsibility for my client's decisions. If the patient makes a wrong decision, I think it is my job to convince that person to do it the "right way."
At the point that I demand a particular decision from my client, I have overstepped my bounds. In the "ACL-brace-with-high-heels" case, I expect the stranger to start wearing flat shoes; but she may still choose to wear high heels. I do not have any control over the decisions someone else makes. But I want to do everything in my power to make sure those decisions are informed ones. I want this complete stranger to know the impact her feet have on her entire body, but especially on her injured knee. The client (or in this case, the stranger), a consenting adult, is within her rights to make decisions that I disagree with. Those decisions may lead to what I consider an inferior outcome.
I think sometimes I mistake my purpose. I put too much responsibility on myself. I think my job is to get the right outcome for my client. While that is certainly my goal, it is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to provide accurate information and respond professionally to the decisions my client makes. As long as I have met those obligations, the outcome is the client's responsibility.
Takeaway Lesson #2: The outcome is contingent upon variables outside of my control. The sooner I embrace that reality, the better I will retain sanity and reduce my risk of professional burnout.