Are You Waiting for the Bus?
Thought Leadership: From the CEO’s Desk – Richard Leaver, CEO
After working as a physical therapist for more than 20 years I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse workforce in numerous specialties and various environments, ranging from high security prisons to Conductive education schools. What I have slowly realized over this time is that the patient’s level of perceived satisfaction is not limited to such factors as the therapists’ level of professionalism, educational background, clinical experience or handling skills. In fact, I would suggest that these issues are not satisfiers at all, rather dissatisfiers. For instance, if a patient receives a treatment episode that consists of accurately applied manual therapy techniques and appropriate therapeutic exercises in a safe and pleasant environment, it does not mean that the patient was highly satisfied with their care, only that they were probably not dissatisfied.
I have come across many therapists who are extremely skilled in the art of mechanical diagnosis and treatment who are not widely known within either the medical arena or general public. Then there are a small number of therapists who achieve widespread recognition and acclaim but have average clinical skill. So, what do we need to give to our patients to make them truly satisfied with their physical therapy experience?
I would argue that the single most important variable that differentiates a good or great therapy encounter is the passion exhibited by the therapist. The most successful clinicians that I have encountered all exude a huge quantity of passion when engaged in the evaluation and treatment of patients. The patient is acutely aware of the verbal and nonverbal behavior of the therapist. A therapist who is disinterested in their treatment will promote a similar attitude from their patients. This can sometimes be reflected by the level of cancellations / no-shows of patients.
If the therapist does not have a passion for what they do for eight hours a day, five days a week, then what is the motivation to continue doing the same thing day in and day out? As is often quoted, ‘life is not a dress rehearsal’. Whilst nobody enjoys the mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy associated with most types of employment there must be a component of enjoyment associated with the primary tasks completed every day.
The key to success and the therapist’s happiness is enjoyment of the job. I challenge each therapist to develop or rediscover his or her passion. It may mean attending more training courses or developing skills in a different specialty. For others it may require a paradigm shift in our thoughts and attitude. Whatever it is, don’t wait to get on the bus, develop your passion!