It’s seemed to have taken me a long time to realise that in my profession, we give a lot more than we take.
Being a Physiotherapist is incredibly rewarding – I get to help patients on a daily basis, see them get better and be with them through their most anxious times. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, you need to work well under pressure and react to change or emergency situations.
I am giving myself, my time and my energy to a long list of patients every single day. I spend hours working with people to help them get better or improve their symptoms. I make sure they have everything they need before they go home, communicate with their family, friends and other healthcare professionals.
Yet we rarely get a “thank you”.
I am in no way saying that every patient I see should thank me for my care and attention – we actually receive a great deal of thanks in the form of cards or chocolates. What I’m saying is that we often work so hard for our patients that it goes unnoticed – we’ll get complained at about not doing something on time or interrupted mid treatment.
There are times when I have come home from a clinical day feeling completely drained having given all my energy to my patients, leaving none left to me. I’m exhausted, worked well over my normal hours and have to do it all again the next day.
I am at the point now where I am incredibly thankful that an opportunity to join the Governance and Senior Management Team became available, because I would have reduced my clinical hours regardless. But this way I get to be paid as a full-time member of staff and do two things that I love, having 3 days without the stress or adrenaline of being clinical.
Unfortunately, it is a common theme among hospitals – reduced funding means reduced staff, but the patient caseload doesn’t change, in fact it’s bigger than ever and will increase further as we head into winter. And it’s not just Physiotherapists that are feeling the way I am – all healthcare professionals are feeling the stress. Whether you are a nurse, doctor or surgeon, we give all the time to patients, that sometimes expect everything from us, and get nothing in return.
There are days when my standard 30 minute lunch break are either non-existent or rushed because I’ll be interrupted and asked to do something. On worse days I struggle to it in toilet breaks or even have a drink, or my colleagues will go without any break all shift. Some will work late into the night beyond their normal hours and still be in early the next day.
And even though you may be reading this and thinking I am ungrateful or stressed out or loosing the passion for my job, I can assure I am not. I know I’m not because every once in a while you’ll get a patient or a colleague that gives you their sincerest gratitude or makes such a pleasant comment that you forget about all the pressures, the bad NHS media and how you’re trying to fit 2 days worth of patients into a 7.5 hour shift. It’s these moments when you realise why you are doing the job you do,
But this year, after being so poorly last year, I have learnt that sometimes you can only do you’re best and that until people see that you are struggling or can’t meet the demands, nothing is going to change. I’ve also stopped doing everything for everyone (apart from patients), because they are employed, qualified or able to do it themselves.
Everything in life is a balancing act, so if you are giving all the time and receiving nothing in return, it is going to get so tiring and you are going to have nothing left. So learn to take back – be it some time, energy or actually accepting a compliment. It’ll help restore that balance.