Get Right Physio

The Importance Of Empathy In Healthcare; The Art Of Physiotherapy

This is not a job application, unless the Toronto Raptors are reading this

I studied for six years to obtain a Masters of Science degree and become the physiotherapist I am today.

During this period, much of my ambition was spurred by a desire to become the best physiotherapist I could, with an eventual end goal of working for the Toronto Raptors. The latter is still a work in progress but if anyone reading this knows Masai Ujiri or Bobby Webster, please do me a favour: let them know I’m ready to negotiate a contract!

I’m glad they haven’t offered me a max contract yet because my 13-year career has allowed me to evolve and understand certain things which I believe are necessary to become the best physiotherapist I can be. For much of my career, I was under the impression that competence and skillset were the most valuable traits I could nurture in myself; but as I’ve grown both personally and professionally, I’ve learned that physiotherapy is more than just science – it’s an art.

The Science Vs. The Art

Going to school, learning about physiotherapy by studying the human body – its anatomy, muscles, nerves, etc. – and having late study nights (as well as some fun from time to time) to pass my exams were necessary to develop my know-how and capabilities as a physiotherapist. This is the science. Without it, I would have never been able to get a job in this industry, let alone start my own business (something I could have never fathomed as a student; what feels like so long ago).

Soft skills that might not be easily taught, and are more innate but can also be refined, are the art. By stretching my empathetic muscles, I’ve realized that patients care less about skillsets or competence and more about being listened to, feeling heard, and receiving validation.

Don’t get me wrong, both elements – the science and the art – are important, but being a great physiotherapist (one worth a max, ahem… Masai, Bobby) requires both. Ultimately, patients need a holistic approach because as people, we are whole and pain is multi-faceted.

The Art & The Science

Pain or injuries aren’t solely the byproduct of physical or structural causes like joints and muscles. It can also be related to stress levels, dietary habits like insufficient hydration, lack of sleep, and major life changes – all of these things affect us.

That’s why educating people on the different factors that could be related to their physical pain is essential. Building rapport and trust with clients is a crucial element of this; so that you can provide education that patients are receptive to. By doing these things, showing that you care will be more important to any patient while positively impacting their progress, outcomes, and overall success.

Academic literature reinforces this notion, teaching us that evidence-based practices must be supported by a patient’s goal to create and administer effective treatment strategies.

So again, listening to the patient, having that human touch, and demonstrating compassion is one part of the picture – but it’s a major part. This is evident in our Google reviews where there is far more appreciation for the care, kindness, and compassion our team provides – not our qualifications.

Masai, Bobby, I’m Waiting

If Shaq hadn’t been as good at basketball as he was, he said companies wouldn’t have cared for him in their TV commercials. In a way, this is how I view the art and science of physiotherapy – being competent in our profession is imperative but so are our soft skills that contribute to whether our patients seek treatment from us.

When patients visit a doctor or a specialist and walk away dissatisfied, many times it’s due to a lack of bedside manner. That’s why the way that medical professionals speak to patients, listen to them, and care for them plays a huge part in their recovery – their qualifications are only a part of the equation.

For example, you probably know what I mean if you’ve ever seen the show House. While Dr. Gregory House is a fictional character, he’s one that perfectly portrays what I’m talking about – someone who is exceptional at their job, but whose personality is, for the sake of keeping this blog post family friendly, not very nice. As a result, he wasn’t viewed very favourably by his patients – unless he got perfect outcomes for them.

In essence, at GRP, we strive to be more like Dr. Shaquille O’Neal – great at our jobs, and kind to our patients and those around us. So, if you’re in need of in-home physiotherapy, give us a call and we’ll show you what you mean – I have all the time in the world until Masai and Bobby reach out with that deal 😉