One of the things that I love most about our PT program here at Elon is the large number of opportunities that we have to interact with people in the Elon/Burlington community. From actors that come into school to serve as standardized patients to the residents at local retirement communities, we are blessed to learn so much through our interactions with these great people. During one recent interaction as a part of our geriatrics course, a classmate and I performed a one rep max assessment with an individual from one of our local retirement communities. As we were completing the assessment, she said that while she knew the intent of the session was for us to share information with her, she turned the tables on us and informed us that she had something of her own that she wanted to share. She told us of a negative health care experience that she had recently had where the individuals delivering her treatment made her feel like just another number in a long list of patients that needed to be seen. Urging us strongly to avoid this mentality at all cost, she told us instead to always remember that we are working with people and that we therefore have an obligation to treat every person with genuine care and respect.
I loved this interaction not only because we received some timely and important advice but also because it reminded me that the people that I treat often have more of an impact on me that I have on them. Yes, PT is undeniably about using the skills and knowledge we have accumulated to make physical improvements in people’s lives; but perhaps more importantly, it is also about building relationships and making sure that each of our patients knows that we don’t view them as just another number. Here’s to many years of building awesome relationships through PT!