To me, a professional, in terms of physiotherapy, is someone who has been given the opportunity of being responsible for others, having the drive to do their best for the public, the best knowledge of how to provide a service for others and generally being and doing the best that they can be in order to improve the quality of life of others. For me to be a professional, in my eyes, I need to know that before, during and after I have worked with a patient, I can gladly say that I gave them my all, because at the end of the day they deserve it. Everyone has the right to health care and I am in the position to provide it. I may still be a student but I have noticed that, regardless of my education level, I have the responsibility to my patients to treat them to the best of my abilities.
The placement that I am currently working at is probably the most challenging place I have been to so far in terms of ethics and what the patients need and show receive from the physiotherapy department. There are patients that have been going there for years and if anything, they are getting worse. They aren’t being treated the correct way in my eyes. Their symptoms are treated for a couple of days which results on them needing to come back again in a couple of weeks time. I don’t believe that physiotherapy is a way of life, it shouldn’t be like chronic medication that you have to take for the remainder of your days. Physiotherapists are educators too, we are supposed to do what we can to ensure that you can lead a positive, reduced or preventative of injury, pain-free life. This is achieved by the application of theoretical and practical-based knowledge acquired from the many years of studying the specific path. Physiotherapy is a hands-on form of treatment, not just machines.
I am shocked by the lack of physical contact that patients actually receive in this place, and when I have asked patients, that if using this specific machine/modality has helped them, about a third of them tell me no. Yet for the past 3 treatments they have received shows that that is all they have been given. Of course it’s not the patients fault, they have no idea what physiotherapy is. I can’t expect them to know that physiotherapy should provide differences in a patients state from the first session. This is the professionals fault – for not, first, listening to the patient to find out if this specific treatment works for them (I understand that it sometimes can help but there is very little evidence to back it up therefore being more of a placebo effect) and secondly, down to sheer laziness of the professional, in my eyes. This isn’t treating the cause, it’s treating the symptoms for a short period of time, which in turn leads to an over load of work coming back day in, day out for the exact say problem. “Physical therapists need to know available options and develop strategies that consider best practice within the confines of contemporary payment systems. Ethical issues may confront practitioners that can create dilemmas between what is and what should be.” (Richardson, 2015). I do understand that government-based facilities are limited in terms of funding but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more that you can do with just your 2 hands, and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to refuse patients a treatment that will help them.
I may not have a textbook definitive idea of what ethics and professionalism is but I can apply my own opinions and morals to the way I practice physiotherapy and how I as a person in this field.
Reference: Richardson, R. W. (2015) Ethical issues in physical therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4596180/