Change as a Process

TGIM! I got the opportunity to return to work as a physical therapist today for the first time in weeks due to quarantine of COVID. I felt very excited because: 1. I got to see other people and I’m an extrovert. 2. It felt good to return to some semblance of structure and 3. I love being a physical therapist.

I’ve been a physical therapist for about 8 years now and I’ve learned so much during my career thus far. I think the most important things I’ve learned are not even related to the subject material of orthopedic injuries, lymphedema, or new techniques. The most important things I’ve learned are how to relate to other people, grow as a person, and be available for my patients.

I think a lot of people who are passionate about their craft enter their field with rose colored glasses or uniformed optimism. It’s kind of about their ideals and what SHOULD be. There is a type of beginner’s energy that exists and helps you through the steep learning curve. It can also manifest as a disgust for the current status quo and a hope WE can do better. For example, I graduated school with the expectation that the patient’s needs should be first. I thought I would always be appreciated and what I learned in school would be practiced in the real world. I thought the slips in the system that happened to me would not be tolerated in a world I participated in as a provider.

The confrontation of informed pessissm that comes with increased understanding and information you acquire can be crushing. Reimbursement issues, bureaucratic sludge, documentation, etc got in the way. Even my ideals of how patients or people “should” act got in the way. “Why doesn’t this person want to get better?” “Why doesn’t this person attend their appointments?” “Why do they not do their home exercise program?”

Brene Brown defines hope as belief in oneself, tolerance for dissapointment, and forward movement.

In hope, growth culminates in informed optimism. By the grace of God, I’ve encountered mentors like the physical therapists Matt and Deb at my first job whom have helped frame patient care and life. I’ve had knowledge poured into me through course work with EIM or Klose training. I’ve had best friends like Arlyn to explore the world and discover new things. I’ve sought counseling and growth groups like Changes that Heal that have fertilized my heart, soul, and mind.

In growing up, I’m realizing the more I learn, the less I actually knew. Not that I don’t know a lot of things, cmon… my biggest budget busts are education. Rather, an intellectual humility that has developed in me despite what I’ve done. I’m grateful for it and want to discuss previous treatment I’ve had in this context.

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