A question that is thrown around often and difficult to answer, is “can you define (insert therapy service here)?” Then, even we, as therapists who live and breathe our professions every day, stumble to answer this. Then we wonder why other professionals are referred to before us, or used more often than us. This is a huge problem for our professions, but what is even more of a problem is that we are contributing to this misunderstanding on a daily basis.
In the world of health and wellness there are so many environments, settings, and populations. Much like choosing a profession, we are told to decide on a population or environment upon graduation. Shortly after this decision is made, healthcare professionals are immediately asked to use a subset of their skills to treat their patients. This makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is why the other skills are forgotten and neglected to the point that therapists claim they no longer feel comfortable using those tools.
Work in outpatient orthopedics or sports, and our knowledge and awareness of the medically fragile patient is sacrificed.
Work in the home setting and our knowledge and ability to perform hands on manual therapy is sacrificed.
Work in the hospital setting and our ability to progress exercise programs is sacrificed.
Why? Why do we let our environment define our professions? In every environment we should be working to listen to our patients, learn their goals, assess them for medical stability and physical function, and be able to progress them through an adequate exercise program to achieve their goals. Vital sign monitoring should not be overlooked, medications should always be reviewed/requested, and our patients’ personal goals should always be taken into consideration. The environment should not dictate this, and we should be knowledgable enough about possible subsequent services to recommend to our patients so they have the tools they need to succeed.
What are we? We should be patient advocates, a resource for them to be successful, a source of motivation not discouragement, a positive impact that promotes health, wellness, and success! We should be movement specialists in all environments! Strive for progress, treat the person, and make a true impact every day!
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