Power can be a beam of light or a dark shadow.

As this year began I looked forward to clinical rotations because even though I was very nervous, I was also very enthusiastic to learn as much as I can as it is my final year of study. My first clinic block was a specialty in physiotherapy and I was very excited to learn and absorb as much as I could. I prepared myself for this block and I said to myself, “Ask as many questions as possible, even if it might seem stupid.” I was ready to take charge of my learning. The pressures of final year piled on and it seemed like somehow I was just expected to know everything which I found difficult considering I am still a student and therefore I am still learning.

I don’t think that clinicians realize the impact they have on us as students. Working day in and day out with someone who has been through it all and they are where you hope to be some day should give you more motivation and encouragement to do and be better. My experience however had me questioning my career choice. Continuous anxiety and stress everyday for weeks had me wondering if physiotherapy is really for me. I was walking on egg shells every single day, hoping my clinician would be in a meeting or too busy to pay attention to me because all she did was bring me down, discourage me and decreased my learning opportunities. She would speak to me in a rude tone, raise her voice when it was uncalled for and when she was asked a question she would reply with, “You’re in final year, don’t you know?” or “ You should know that.” I got to a point where I was mentally and emotionally exhausted because anything I tried to do was never good enough and she never had constructive criticism. I was even told, “Don’t forget we have to mark your professional conduct forms.” The way in which I was treated made me resent work and the relief that washed over me when my last day was over cannot be explained.

Yes, not all clinicians treat students this way but my experience was terrible. I believe that clinicians can be a role model to us students because we are hungry to learn anything they are willing to teach us. They are our teachers who we look to for advice and assistance during our learning process so we can one day get to where they are and be the best that we can be. We are in charge of our own learning but a work environment and those in authoritative positions have a huge impact on our learning.  According to Nag (2016) a supervisor should instill enthusiasm and confidence in those working under them. This leads to a better environment conducive to learning.  When bosses or colleagues threaten an employee or pass offensive remarks this leads to a hostile environment (Nag, 2016).

In an article it mentions that power is inevitable during leadership but one should not abuse their power but instead understand it comes with responsibilities and they should use it in a way that makes a positive change (POWER IN THE WORKPLACE, 2008).

I planned to stand up for myself but I could never build up the courage to do so and I did not want to cause more conflict in an already hostile environment. Whenever I did try to express my opinion I was just brushed aside or shouted at and so I decided to just take it. Near to the end of my block I realized that 1 person’s opinion about me did not define who I am or the type of physiotherapist I will be one day and so I learnt what I could on my own, accepted any constructive criticism and waited for the days to pass by. I wish I could have asserted myself. After further research I have decided that I will not allow myself to go through that experience again and so in the future I will speak to whoever I have any problem with, in a professional and respectful way and hopefully we can come up with a solution.

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