The 3 things that make you a great patient
This year marks 9 whole years that I have worked as a physiotherapist. From acute hospital wards, rehab wards, patient homes and private practices, I have seen thousands of patients in a variety of different healthcare settings. These patients come from all walks of life and each of them face their own unique challenges when it comes to their body and physical condition.
Let me be honest. As a healthcare professional I find that the entire treatment experience can go incredibly smoothly for certain patients. For some others, not so much!
As a healthcare professional, I try my best to stay impartial and give all the patients I see my best regardless. However, therapists, just like you, are human too. Just like how there are great therapists, there is such a thing as a great patient as well.
Today, I am going to talk about what makes a great patient. Of course, this is only my subjective opinion and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
3 things that make you a great patient
Be committed to your own health
A great patient is one who is committed to their health and to getting better. In the best case scenario, a great patient will be taking all the advice and teaching that you receive from your therapist and make the necessary changes to your lifestyle.
As a physiotherapist, while I have the responsibility of helping you relieve your symptoms through manual therapy, a large part of the entire treatment process is actually giving you advice on what exercises to do and what lifestyle changes to make. Through being committed to your health and following through on the aftercare and taking my advice to heart, we can attain the best possible results together.
The sad reality is that when the patients do not make the necessary changes, their outcome is usually also not as good as those who do. I have to admit such cases are heartbreaking to me as healing my patients is why I became a physiotherapist in the first place. I have to be honest, it is less rewarding to me as a healthcare professional to treat a patient whose lack of commitment makes it very tough for him or her to achieve the best results.
A great patient has reasonable expectations with their recovery. Recovery takes time and it is unreasonable to expect pain that you have had for months or years to disappear after a single 1-hour session of physiotherapy!
There are many misconceptions about how physical therapy works. Perhaps you know a friend or colleague who received a specific type of treatment and they swear that it worked well for them. Maybe Dr. Google told you that a treatment will work wonders for your condition and you have high expectations that miraculous results will follow after therapy.
Here’s the truth: each patient is highly unique. We know from countless studies and clinical experience that you can give 100 patients the exact same treatments and get 100 completely different results!
What works for one person may not work the same way for you and your body. Patience is often necessary in cases where treatment isn’t initially as effective as you thought. Therefore, you will need to have that commitment and trust in your therapist to give his/her best in providing you with the highest level of care.
This aspect of being a patient is far less obvious, but is just as important.
Conventionally, most would think that the therapist is the one who needs to prepare for your visit. In actuality, both the patient and therapist will need to make certain preparations for a visit to go smoothly.
We do this by cleaning the equipment, coordinating with your doctors, and ensuring that we have a plan for your treatment. What you can do as a patient is to stick to the schedule so that you arrive on time, prepare your referral letters, a list of medicines you currently take, a list of medical problems or symptoms, and information on past surgeries or overall history.
In the event that both the therapist and patient is prepared for a visit, this makes for a fruitful therapy session as we can focus on your outcome!
Thankfully, most of my patients fall into the categories of great patients! I feel blessed to have the knowledge and training to care for them. I appreciate that my patients confide in me and take great pride in working with them to achieve their goals.