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Raising the Bar in Rehab

How Can We Improve?

Published May 8, 2014 3:51 PM by Lisa Mueller

When I think about making improvements within physical therapy, my mind automatically transitions to evidence-based practice and focusing on outcome measurements. When thinking about department goals and making improvements, I consider factors impacting those two areas such as improving access to research sources or compliance when using outcome measures. Since the role of physical therapists lies primarily in helping patients improve, I often forget about other components that could significantly help a department of physical therapists.

At one of my clinical rotations when I was in school to become a physical therapist, I worked at an outpatient facility that provided whirlpool treatments to patients needing wound care. I remember one patient scraping his leg on the side of the whirlpool, which resulted in some bleeding and my instructor needing to file a report describing the situation. The report was extremely difficult to fill out; it was handwritten with lots of boxes to add information and took me and my instructor nearly 30 minutes to complete. A few weeks later, we received an email from the department manager that the report had been made into a digital version (PDF) that could be completed on a computer and printed for circulation.

I remember working in a therapy department that would have a few students rotate through each year. We always set aside a few small projects for the students to assist with, such as researching new equipment or literature supporting treatment techniques. One summer we ended up working with two more students than we originally planned for, and as a result we were able to make much more progress toward our department goals. Our students helped us organize some areas of our equipment closets.

In both situations, I witnessed how seemingly little changes easily improved the day-to-day tasks of the physical therapists. Reports were easier to complete and equipment easier to find. Improving the small things can really add up to staff being happy about their jobs, and I hope to keep these things in mind throughout the year -- celebrating the "small wins."

What do you think? What small things have made your job easier?

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