What qualities should you look for in a Physical Therapist?
In the second installment of my blog topics revolving around patient communication and building a good patient-therapist alliance, I wanted to discuss attributes you should be looking for when deciding what physical therapist you work with.
Trust. One of the single biggest predictors of improved outcomes in medicine is when the patient TRUSTS his or her provider. When a patient presents to a physical therapy clinic he or she may be coming in for numerous reasons but ultimately they are seeking help getting back to doing things they cannot currently do. As a result an excellent relationship with your provider ( patient-therapist alliance) must be established in order set expectations for a course of action, communicate effectively with the patient and provide positive feedback by answering the patients questions.
Data suggests that providing positive feedback, answering the patient’s questions, and providing clear instructions for home practice are positively associated with a good working alliance and satisfaction with treatment. Therapy delivered by the same PT, cleanliness, being on time and efficient treatment positively effects patient satisfaction and overall outcomes. It is imperative as therapists we take the time to listen to what our patients are saying to us and have the humility to adapt our treatment strategies accordingly. Patients, if you feel as though your therapist is not listening to you, please speak up to ensure that the therapist understands your questions or concerns. Ultimately patient expectations play an extremely vital role in getting the best outcomes from a course of physical therapy care.
Active Listening. Step away from the computer, make eye contact, smile, and openly communicate with your patients. Most patients in healthcare get very minimal time with their providers due to the constraints of the healthcare system. As physical therapists we are in a unique situation where we have more time to spend with our patients. If you are a patient you should expect your therapist to take the time, make the effort and use his or her energy to actively listen to you each treatment. Good effective and open communication requires active listening to your current issues and taking a collaborative approach to your overall treatment plan.
If you don’t find these qualities with your therapist, first and foremost please speak up to him or her. If you are at all unhappy with your care or plan to help you get back to activities you enjoy doing, please let your clinician know. It is very important that both the patient and therapist develop a good working relationship together in order to help achieve goals established at the initial evaluation. These are just some of the qualities that a therapist must have in order to be in the best position to help patients get back to function. If you are not satisfied with your therapist, consider seeking out another therapist that may have these qualities you are looking for. Be an advocate for your own healthcare!