STEP 1: Shut up and listen
STEP 2: Embrace your mistakes
STEP 3: Be consistent
STEP 4: Stay Humble
STEP 5: Never forget your purpose
Only swing at fastballs, ignore the change-ups
In baseball and softball, when you’re up to bat, you have the option of deciding whether to swing at a pitch you consider favorable and ignoring those you don’t. In our role as healthcare practitioners, we can’t just sit back and cherry pick who walks through our door in need of our expertise. With that being said, if we are thrown a curve-ball that is more difficult to handle, we owe it to our profession to deliver. This curve-ball can be in the form of a personality type, gender, age or even a difficult diagnosis that may make us feel uneasy.
His name was Marcus
Everyone has a story that altered the course of their career in one direction or another. Mine started with a 10-year-old we will call “Marcus”. He had suffered from chronic seizures as a toddler and required brain surgery involving removal of his frontal lobe as a treatment. I had only been a PT for a year or so and this was his first time receiving physical therapy because he had never been covered by insurance. His mom was distraught, overwhelmed and somehow full of excitement at this new opportunity for him. He was developmentally delayed. He was unable to verbally communicate or stand/walk on his own and was confined to a wheelchair.
My 10-year-old mentor
He and I spent 8 months together. In that time period, I truly believe he taught me more than I could ever teach him. I learned what it meant to fight for your patients and appreciate the concept of serving a cause that was bigger than myself. Without intentions of being contemptuous, I had colleagues tell me writing letters of medical necessity were fruitless and a waste of time, but I wrote them anyways. We were able to get Marcus a stander and a gait trainer. Seeing the tears of joy on his mom’s face after watching him walk for the first time still gives me chills. As our time together came to a conclusion, I was gifted with 3 pairs of socks, all being themed of different superheroes. I was only a year out of school and was considered a superhero to Marcus and his family. Little did they know, he was actually mine.
You don’t have to be an expert to care
I didn’t have advanced training, or a skill set that set me apart from the crowd. I did, however, have questions that I felt needed to be answered. My passion for finding answers outweighed my fear of imposter syndrome and being inadequate. I knew that with some effort of seeking guidance and resources, I could help this family in one way or another. There will be plenty of challenging circumstances and people we will encounter throughout our career. We can’t let the day to day nuisances of productivity or keeping up with notes discourage us from embracing these challenges. I wear my superhero and crazy socks daily as my reminder--you may have to find your own.