A Journey Beyond Ordinary…

“Life Will Give You Whatever Experience Is Most Helpful for the Evolution of Your Consciousness.”   

Eckhart Tolle 

Life has no short-cuts; it cannot be cheated or forged. Every bad situation teaches us a lesson and grants us an opportunity to grow as an individual. For us to grow, we must learn from our mistakes and have a moment of reflection to allow ourselves the opportunity to view the situation from a more holistic point of view. If at some point we find ourselves in the same situation, would we handle it in the same manner or would the lesson learned change the way we handle a similar situation?

When asked to reflect on the past year and comment on our growth in terms of professionalism and ethics, we all might agree that it is always easier to talk about a topic we are passionate about or something we would like to educate others about. When asked to reflect on ourselves it is almost as though we experience writers’ block. I was taken aback and had to identify what exactly the task required or meant, not per the Oxford Dictionary, but to me as a person. I had to evaluate myself within a clinical setting and reflect on how much I have changed, or improved my professional and ethical self with regards to the clinical setting. In doing this I had to identify if I can handle situations better than I previously have or incorporating my learning points into my learning experience. All the while striving to improve me to eliminate mistakes and become a better physiotherapist equipped to handle any situation. Ultimately making me more competent at my job. The easiest way for me to reflect on the changes was to engage with the definitions to establish the definitions of the respective words and evaluate if I have lived up to the expectations of the words, mainly personal, professional and ethical development.

Personal development is defined as an ongoing process which improves and increases the abilities of individuals providing a service. Through the guidance of education and training, the individual can achieve personal growth through the development of skills and acquiring knowledge leading to a successful occupation and competence in the working environment (“Business Directory Definitions”, 2016).  According to the Health Professional Council of South Africa, ethics is defined as the moral principles to ensure the health professionals are treating patients within the ethical standards, to ensure equality and fair treatment in the healthcare setting regardless of personal morals (Health Professional Council of South Africa, 2008). Professional development is comprised of the characteristics and careful habit of communication, knowledge, skills and clinical reasoning without the influence of emotions and values while being able to treat a patient and learn from errors that an individual is presented with. It is through reflection that one can identify the level of competency (Kirk, 2007).


Exploring the terms mentioned above, a specific example springs to mind. A moment where I was in a situation in a clinical rotation where a clinician always mentioned that I was incompetent, I was not worthy of my allocated year and I was not willing to learn and I was just plain old lazy. This clinician was about a year older than me and I dreaded going to my clinical block because I had to put up with her negativity. I saw more patients daily than she ever did during my 6-week block and she was always treating me badly. I sucked it up for the duration of my block and at the end of the block, I received a terrible block report (as I had expected from the clinician) and was again filled with negativity. I gladly took the page and said thank you for everything and gladly walked away relieved that I had to never work under her again.

A year ago, I had the exact SAME clinician and I had handled it very differently. This very clinician was not willing to teach; she was not helpful and always just shouted at me because I was NOT there to learn. She seemed to think I was just there to help make her load lighter. Being a third year on your first rotation at a hospital, let’s be honest, we might know the theory but are new to the clinical aspect and treating patients instead of dolls or each other. It is something new, we do not know everything and we are still learning. Nonetheless, I went to my block rotation, excited to learn something new and come home having seen something “cool”. Maybe an amputation or a hip replacement, quite frankly just something I had not seen before. I remember at lunch or while in our respective wards, my block partner and I used to message each other saying how terrible she was and especially the way she treated us. I will not forget, one specific incident stands out, she asked me a question and I honestly did not know the answer. I said in a NEUTRAL tone, “I’m sorry but I do not know the answer, but I am more than willing to research the answer and give it to you tomorrow morning”. She ROLLED her eyes at me, said that was not good enough and walked away. This is where I complained to my supervisor, to her superior and I did not just suck it up. In the end, she changed the marks on my block report and I had left that block rather upset about the dynamics of that specific physiotherapy department. I used to go home daily, being upset and frustrated because this clinician was not willing to teach me. Her attitude towards me made me have a negative impact on my learning and I felt too scared to ask any questions or even ask for help.

Regardless of her childish behaviour, that is not under scrutiny in this post, I am. From the maturation, which I could achieve in a professional manner that instead of complaining about it, I dealt with her and took any challenge that she threw at me. I saw my patients, I treated them to the best of my ability and the doctors were very pleased with my progress. A doctor mentioned to me that he appreciates all the dedication I had shown to my patients and that there are very few people like me around. He mentioned that his not going to get into the dynamics of the physiotherapy department, but I made a difference to his patients and he was grateful for that. It is amazing how that compliment just pushed me over to see the bigger picture. It has got nothing to do with her and the power struggle, but the patients who need the healthcare and the ones that can benefit from the service I am there to provide. The manner in which I tried to educate myself and put the negativity of the clinician aside, this shows my very own professional growth. Being able to put aside the negative clinician and instead put my patients first and to learn the most I could from this block. Personally, I developed as an individual even though I was not being taught by my own clinician, I consulted my colleagues and always tried to learn from them, reading up on things I did not understand and learnt from my supervisor, I tried to put the negativity out of my mind and just remember that this is MY learning opportunity and there are just some miserable people in this world and I do not want to be one of those.

According to Lekkas, et al. (2007) students are provided the chance through clinical practice is to develop skills to equip the student to be competent in practice. The student can incorporate the knowledge or evidence in the textbook to a real-life situation in the clinical setting, translating evidence into practice. By training students in this manner, it increases their skills, abilities to combine the theory in the clinical setting specific to a patient and condition, boosts their confidence and the ability to gain experience (Lekkas et al., 2007). This development of skills and confidence leads to professional development in students transitioning from incompetent and unskilled to resourceful and competent. Students feel responsible to constantly learn and keep up to date on the latest medical developments as this ultimately affects their development and allows them to stand out among their colleagues (Cross, 1997). Students find it easier to adapt to a new clinical setting with a colleague, as they can share responsibilities, sense of security and form a support system for each other. Students who are respected by their interactions with their superiors as having a mutual level of respect among each other, in terms of their opinions and beliefs. Being respected by your superior can boost the confidence and self-esteem of a student (Skøien, et al. 2009).


(Develop the Habit of Lifelong Learning for Professional Development, 2012).


Watching this video has taught me that continuous learning through reading, listening to educational material and books allow individuals to create a habit. This habit improves the personal and professional aspects of your life, as you would be excelling in your workplace and you can grow to your full potential. Continuous learning increases your intelligence and creativity leaving the individual feeling optimistic and positive and having confidence in their abilities. This is something that lasts a lifetime.

This was something that I experienced during the above-mentioned scenario as I made the effort to continuously learn from my peers, books, published journal articles and my supervisor. It left me feeling rather pleased with myself and I felt that even though my clinician was unable (or unwilling) to teach me anything, I could use other resources to continuously learn and take my learning and professional development into my own hands. Throughout this block, I realized that I was not the problem, as a third-year student from a different university was on this rotation with me and she was completely and utterly rude to him on a daily basis. No matter what he did, she found a problem with it. I often found myself having to motivate him and teach him things she failed to do.

This experience might not have taught me as much as I wanted from a physiotherapy student aspect; however, I learned a lot about myself and how to continue learning and develop as a professional. This is the beginning of my journey, to success within my career. I learned that I have the abilities within myself to push and work hard to achieve what I want. If someone is negative and constantly condescending, I would want to prove them wrong and achieve what I have set out to do. I have always heard the saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This statement has become so much clearer over the past year, regardless of the work environment you always need to keep the bigger picture in mind. The patient, the reason you are there, your purpose in this situation and you will always succeed. That is what I did and I succeeded regardless, this was not something I learned overnight. It took a lot of tears, frustrating moments and sighs, but it ultimately has the potential to change if you can rise above it all and keep your chin up.


 Mahatma Gandhi



Business Directory Definitions. (2016). BusinessDictionary.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/professional-development.html

Cross, V. (1997). The Professional Development Diary A case study of one cohort of physiotherapy students. Physiotherapy83(7), 375-383.

Develop the Habit of Lifelong Learning for Professional Development. (2012). United States of America.

Health Professions Council of South Africa. (2008). Guidelines for Good Practice in The Health Care Professions. Seeking Patients’ Informed Consent: The Ethical Considerations. Booklet 9 (Pp. 2-16). Pretoria.

Kirk, L. M. (2007). Professionalism in medicine: definitions and considerations for teaching. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center)20(1), 13–16.

Lekkas, P., Larsen, T., Kumar, S., Grimmer, K., Nyland, L., & Chipchase, L. et al. (2007). No model of clinical education for physiotherapy students is superior to another: a systematic review. Australian Journal Of Physiotherapy53(1), 19-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0004-9514(07)70058-2

Reeves, S., Freeth, D., McCrorie, P., & Perry, D. (2002). `It teaches you what to expect in future…’: interprofessional learning on a training ward for medical, nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students. Medical Education36(4), 337-344. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01169.x

Skøien, A., Vågstøl, U., & Raaheim, A. (2009). Learning physiotherapy in clinical practice: student interaction in a professional context. Physiotherapy Theory & Practice25(4), 268-278. doi:10.1080/09593980902782298

Tolle, E. (2016). A quote from A New EarthGoodreads. Retrieved 31 October 2016, from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/28276-life-will-give-you-whatever-experience-is-most-helpful-for




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