What a year this has been….. I remember at the beginning of this year looking at my clinical placements and saying to myself how am I going to get through this year? Becoming wrapped in anxiety and fear, it was in this state of mind that I started the year and then went into my first clinical block. Going into this year I lacked many skills such as communicating with the medical staff, family members and patients at placements (Jantjies, 2016) and self-confidence. Lacking in these skills made my 3rd year of physiotherapy very hard for me as I did not ask for help when I struggled with something, nor did I establish any professional relationships with the staff at the placements. It was with this burden and state of mind that I came into 4th year.
Then within an ordinary day I just decided that I needed to do something and address this problem that has been haunting me for many years. By seeking the advice of wise elderly people, reading books and articles and listening to sermons I was able to initiate a plan to address those weaknesses with in character. Please allow me to elaborate on those:
By seeking the advice of wise elderly people
Having a good relationship with my neighbor allowed me to share with him some of my struggles within the clinical setting and after listening to me he responded with an un-expecting statement saying “you are focusing too much on yourself ,your problems and too little on your patients”. He went on speaking about how I should put others first and allow God to take care of me. Translating this statement from Afrikaans to English seems cause it to lose so much of its stinging power. That statement really struck and left me a little upset afterward, but after pondering about this I realized why it caused me to become so upset… it was the truth. In my daily devotion the next morning when reading the bible I read the gospel of John chapter 3 and then came upon verse 30 where it states that “I must decrease and You (God) must increase. In one of my ethics lectures I remember my lecturers making a similar statement in that context saying “if your exam is about you patient and not about you passing the exam you will pass that exam”. All of this going through my mind probe me to adopt a more patient centered approach.
A more patient centered approach has allowed me re-shift my focus on what is really important and that is my patients .(Little et al., 2001) Found that patients want a patient centered and positive approach and if they do not get it they are less satisfied less enabled and may suffer greater symptom burden. This approach has firstly benefited my patients in the sense that they feel that we really care for them and this inspires them to want to work with the medical staff so that they can get better. Secondly I have seen a great improvement in my subjective skills, being patient focused it allowed me to actually listen to my patient and to ask meaningful questions which extracted important detailed information from my patients. The improvement in this skill is like the snowball effect; my objective assessment improved followed by a more effective treatment then concluding with a happy patient. This is the reason when commenting on the other students’ blogs I always emphasis that we have to really care for our patients and that this should be at the core of our hearts. In my blog on abuse I ended of saying “caring for one another ought to be at the very core of our hearts. Let us train our minds and sensitize our senses so that we can detect any hints or signs of abuse before it destroys another precious life” (Jantjies, 2016).
Reading books and articles
As I started reading books I came across a book called The Grand Weaver. This book proposed a different perspective when reflecting on a life stained with afflictions. In this book the writer uses the designing of a Sari dress as an analogy when describing how God works. Each sari was made individually by a father and son team. The father sat above the son on a platform, surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son did just one thing. At a nod from his father, he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would be repeated for hundreds of hours, till a magnificent pattern began to emerge. The son had the easy task just to move at the father’s nod. All along, the father had the design in his mind and brought the right threads together (Zacharias, 2010) .With the growth that has taken place within me over the course of the year I am able to confirm this that I can feel how my past errors has strengthen me mentally and spiritually. Looking back at my past where so many things did not make sense at that specific time, I now look back and see how the hand of God has guided me through my life’s journey. This has given me a greater sense of confidence in God and my own abilities.
Listening to sermons
After listening to many of Dr Ravi Zacharias sermons on many different topics there were two specific sermons which today still guides me on my path to becoming the best physiotherapist that I can be. It is not my intention to turn this writing piece into a sermon, but I cannot make reference to any other source than God for it is Him that has given me the sustaining power throughout my life. In the first sermon Unplugging Truth in a Morally Suicidal Culture, Part 1 of 2, Unplugging Truth in a Morally Suicidal Culture, Part 2 of 2. Here he speaks about how our work can became our worship to God, thus when treating my patients I have tried doing my duty with love and passion with the end goal of getting my patient healthy. He goes on to speak about the sacredness of life within each individual and if God has placed great value within each of our lives, thus my service to my patients ought to be of the best standard.
Postures of the Mind, Affections of the Heart. Here he speaks about the importance of training the mind not only in the academic sense but also in spiritual context. Secondly learning to forget and being determined to remember, this was a critical lesson I had to learn this year. I previously stated in my introduction I came into this year with a burden of which I will not go into detail, but to be successful this year I had to learn to forget about the bad things that has happened in my past as it affected my self-confidence in the present. To help build my confidence up I became determine to remember the promises of God on how he will sustain you through trials and tribulations. That is the sustaining power that I previously spoke of that kept going when I was overwhelmed with work or under pressure at work.
Bring it all together
Fornari’s (2004) model for professionalism that identifies honesty and integrity, responsibility and accountability, self-improvement, self-awareness and knowledge limits, collaboration, respect for others, compassion and empathy as professional behaviours. I agree completely with this model of professionalism but these behaviours need a deeper driving and sustaining force which I believe is love and passion.
How beautiful is that video…This is why I have made the caring for one another approach the striving of my heart, as that video illustrated it only takes one person to set off a chain reaction of caring for one another.
Examining my amount of growth and discovering where I currently am
Let me start off by mentioning that I am still in the process of striving to become the type of clinician I mentioned above, but what I definitely can say now is that I am not where I use to be.
It is really hard to give every patient this type of care though I must admit especially as there are some patients that are rude and unthankful. In my last experience with a patient being rude towards me and everyone else in the gym I really tried my best to maintain my composure and to not lash out at the patient, but I was irritated and thought of him as just another gangster. At the end of the session the patient looked me in the eye and said “thank you so much for your time and patience I feel much better God bless you”. From that session onwards this patient was always respectful towards me, but almost immediately what came to my mind was a blog written by a fellow student in my class. (Paleker,2016) blog titled “The Perfect Clinician” she speaks about when she had to treat a prisoner, while walking towards him how she had a preconceived idea of what kind of person he must be just because he was a prisoner. Then to her surprise she found him to be such a respectful person.
The lesson I have learned from that is that our character and attitude should not be subjected to mood/attitudes of our patients and secondly that underneath all the garbage (irreverence) within people there is a diamond whose beautiful rays are being suppressed. With our patience and continuous care towards our patients maybe we can remove that dirt and allow the rays of that beautiful diamond to shine as God intended it to be. This will remain the striving of my heart to always give of my best to my patients, I have and I know that I will again fall short in this attempt at times but I will continue to get up keep on striving. I believe a little bit of perfection is found in those who continually strive to attain it. My plan forward is to share this approach with my fellow colleges so that we can together improve the service delivered at our medical institutions. But before I can share this with my fellow colleges I need to have more patients with those who are hostile towards me and maintain my attitude and character under various situations. For me to share this with others I would need to physically set the example and not just give lip service.
I want to end off using this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to the development of my thinking and character. THANK YOU. On to the next chapter…
Fornari, A. 2004. Promoting professionalism through ethical behaviours in the academic setting. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104, Doi. 3: 347–49.
Jantjies, D. V. (2016, August 5). The Depth Of Professionalism [the international ethics project course]. Retrieved on the 2 November 2016 from https://wordpress.com/stats/day/iepcourse.wordpress.com
Jantjies, D. V. (2016, September 30). DO YOU HEAR THE PLEA FOR HELP? ……… [The international ethics project course]. Retrieved 3 November 2016 from https://wordpress.com/stats/day/iepcourse.wordpress.com
Little, P., Everitt, H., Williamson, I., Warner, G., Moore, M., Gould, C, Payne, S. (2001). Observational study of effect of patient centredness and positive approach on outcomes of general practice consultations. BMJ, 323(7318), 908-911. doi:10.1136/bmj.323.7318.908
Paleker, A. (2016, August 5). The “Perfect” Clinician [the international ethics project course]. Retrieved on the 3 November 2016 from https://iepcourse.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/the-perfect-clinician/
Zacharias, R. K. (2010). The grand weaver: How God shapes us through the events of our lives. United States of America: Zondervan.