Why Rush

I came across this quote today in Black Belt Magazine. (Read topics from other fields because you will expand your knowledge and may find information that applies to your mastery).

This quote is perfect for the profession of physical therapy.

Are you in this profession for the long term?

If so, study every day. Learn a little bit every day. Master a topic every day. You have time to reach that mastery. You have you’re entire career to become a master at physical therapy.

If this is a stepping stone to something else (I ain’t gonna hate ya for it), then why bother to master anything at all?

If your goal is to go into the business of owning a clinic, teaching courses, becoming a professor, then it doesn’t matter if you “master the profession”. It only matters that you master that which is your goal.

Happy thought for the day.


Moral Distress

“Unfortunately, information about moral distress and its consequences is often inadequate in healthcare provider education.”

This topic of moral distress was never spoken of in our physical therapy program, but I am unsure if this has changed with time.  Moral distress occurs when someone knows the morally right thing to do for that person, but the individual feels like they are unable to do the right thing for one of many reasons.

These are topics that are not addressed well enough in PT school.  If a person doesn’t have strong moral resolve, then the person may work to appease the reason that he/she feels constrained instead of fulfilling his/her own moral code.


“Moral distress as ‘psychological response to morally challenging situations such as those of moral constraint or moral conflict or both’…experience moral distress and burnout in situations such as patients receiving non-beneficial treatment, patient suffering, care not consistent with patients’ preferences, lack of administrative support, perceived powerlessness, and competing obligations.”

For those that are new grads reading this…WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HEALTH CARE!

Burnout is a topic that has apparently been taboo to talk about in previous years or there hasn’t been a platform in which healthcare practitioners felt comfortable releasing their thoughts.  I can’t remember in my career, albeit only 11 years, in which burnout has been such a large topic as it has been in recent months.

Moral conflict can happen from providing care that is not beneficial.  WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD ANYONE EVER GIVE THIS TYPE OF CARE?!

Enter Shane McMahon

Unfortunately, there have been many therapists that I have spoken to across the country that are performing treatments that they do not personally believe to help the patient, but are trying to stay out of trouble with higher-ups in the company that they are employed.


If you are a patient reading this, close your eyes for this and skip to the next paragraph…Companies are trying to get their hands in your pockets.  (YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO READ THAT!)

“Poor work environments…associated with a higher frequency of nurse-reported healthcare-associated infections. Persistent moral distress can progress to burnout, which is also associated with increased incidence of hospital-acquired infections.”

So…who do you want treating you? Do you want to be treated in an environment that increases your likelihood of developing an infection?

If not…pay attention to your surroundings.  Are your healthcare professionals happy, energized, empowered and fulfilled?  If so, you are probably in a good spot.

“Nurse leaders provided insights on risk factors that increase the possibility of moral distress. System-level factors such as work environment, lack of strong ethics resources, and heavy workloads prevailed.”

If you are practicing in healthcare, does this sound familiar.  A lack of ethical resources and heavy workloads describes most institutions in which I have worked and hear from others in the field of PT.  At no time should money trump patient care, but it happens all too frequently.

I get it…I am trying to run a business.  I have heard the phrases that we need to keep the lights on.  We need to make sure that we are making a small profit.  I get it, but at no point in time should we allow greed to take precedence over patient care.

Seek it out

Understand it

Pay attention to workplace climate

Promote receptive environment and engagement

Open opportunity for dialogue

Reflect, Evaluate, Revise

Transform Environment

Link to article

Thanks for taking the time to read this synopsis.  It would mean a lot to me if you would share this for others to see the state of healthcare in today’s environment.

CrossFit and physical therapy

Our goals as PTs should be our patient’s goals and vice versa. As much as I may want to centralize a patient’s symptoms, sometimes the patient doesn’t care about that and I have to learn that patient’s passions and needs without superimposing my wants on top of the patient.

This is a quick synopsis of a recent interaction that went in a direction totally different than I expected.


“The interest of this project is assessing the prevalence of BOS (Burnout Syndrome) among physiotherapists who work in the Estremadura region (Spain)”


I can already hear the arguments from other PT’s, “Why are you reading research from Spain?” and the answer is because we don’t have enough research from America.  We will have to try to extrapolate some of the information from this article to see if it applies to our work environment.  In the end, people are people and no one article will apply to everyone, but maybe some bits of knowledge can come out of this article to help many.


Let’s start with burnout.  It exists in healthcare and this sector has one of the highest rates of burnout among sectors (think like education, healthcare, transportation, law enforcement etc).


From the other research articles that I am reading, burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low professional (sense of) accomplishment.


“LPA (low professional accomplishment) is clearly higher in the case of split shift working day as well as in private practice”


A split shift, in this study is defined as just that, a shift that is non-consecutive. For instance, there was one job that I was interested in that would take a two-hour lunch in order for the people working there to go to the gym next door.  As much as I was in favor of it, it would have meant another hour away from my family…so I politely turned it down.


Private practice is private practice.  We have this here in the states.  Private practice is traditionally seen as a capitalistic venture, in which the owners are trying to make as much money as possible.


“…more than 40 hours of direct attention (patient contact) is linked to higher scores in EE (emotional exhaustion), and that more than 20 patients treated per day is associated with higher scored in both EE and Dp (depersonalization)”


Are you surprised?


We treat sick people day in and day out.  We treat people in pain day in and day out.  We are constantly taking the burden of others in trying to help these folks.  It can be exhausting.  The other option that could happen when a person becomes emotionally exhausted is to just “shut it down” and then depersonalize work and simply “go through the motions.”


Is this what you want in a health care provider?

Be on the lookout when you go to therapy to see if the therapist is seeing one patient at a time or more than one patient at a time because it can start to give you insight into the PT’s mindset.

“Physiotherapists included in our study had a moderate level of BOS (burnout syndrome) in its three dimensions: EE (emotional exhaustion), Dp (depersonalization) and LPA (low professional accomplishment).”

Although I don’t believe that I fit into this category, it is becoming more obvious from talking to other PT’s in the profession that this is a major problem that will have to be addressed in the not-so-distant future.  Think about it! The population is becoming older, we have a shortage of PT’s and there will be a higher demand for our services.  There are only so many of us to go around and if the PT works for a company that values $$$ over quality, then the PT’s will be asked to see more and more patients per day.  This appears to be leading the charge for burnout, based on the conversations that I have with other PT’s.


I did an informal survey on FB to determine the primary cause of burnout among the professionals and the primary answer was productivity demands.  For those of you that aren’t in healthcare, this means how many patients are you billing per hour.  WE DON’T MAKE WIDGETS!!!! We can’t treat people like WIDGETS!  It makes sense that some PT’s are getting their ethical buttons pushed and start to depersonalize.  One PT that I spoke to literally said that he was exhausted from TREATING PATIENTS!


Are you kidding me?!


It’s only getting worse out there.  As a patient you need to know what’s happening in the profession and choose a PT that is giving you undivided attention when you are in the clinic (THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR!) and as a PT, you have a choice to work in a place that is asking more from you than you can deliver or you can leave and find something different.


“…the age of physiotherapists does not seem to have any influence in the syndrome. However, there is an adjustment period, at the beginning of the physiotherapist’s professional development, where they are especially vulnerable to the development of BOS (burnout syndrome).”


Old and young alike feel stress.  We all have ethical buttons.  Some that have swam the waters of this profession for years have learned to live with it, but those coming out are facing challenges that are considered taboo to speak of in school.  It’s only due to social media that these topics are becoming more mainstream for students to learn about.


“…physiotherapists who work split shifts and more than 38.5 hours per week are those who present the highest level of BOS (burnout).”


I don’t know any PT’s, minus those that don’t choose to work full-time, that are consistently putting in less than 39 hours per week.  I am personally putting in a ton of hours per week of direct patient care and indirect care through notes, blogging and doing videos.


“Burnout syndrome reaches its highest levels in those who dedicate more than 40 hours per week of direct attention to patients…”


Should we even bring up student loan debt?


If you want a comfortable/stable life, then you will work more than 40 hours per week.  Otherwise, you will pay your student loans off over decades.  That ball and chain will always be there.  Click  here to learn more about the ball and chain.


I personally receive income from three different companies, which I wished that I did sooner instead of waiting almost 10 years to work multiple jobs.  On the flip side though, had I done this sooner, then I may have experienced burnout and not be in the position that I am in today.


“…more than 20 patients per day have the highest levels of EE (emotional exhaustion), Dp (depersonalization) and BOS (burnout)”


PTs: Does this fit the description of the person and therapist that you want to be? If so, go forth and treat 2+ patients per hour.  Just know that you are making that decision and there is no sympathy for you in the end.


Patients: Does this describe the person that you want treating you? Emotionally exhausted, depersonalized and burnt out? If not, look around.  How many patients are there per therapists.




Excerpts from:

Gonzalez-Sanchez B, Lopez-Arza MVG, Montanero-Fernandez J et al. Burnout syndrome prevalence in physiotherapists. Rev Assoc Med Bras. 2017;63(4):361-365

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