Be An Advocate

Occasionally, we get requests for guest posts from various individuals. Some of them are good. None of them have yet been published…until now! Look for more guest contributor posts as we transition and grow from NPA Think Tank to PT Think Tank!  Thanks, ERIC

Be an Advocate!

Obama on LenoIn conjunction with the Special Olympics campaign to eliminate the use of the “r-word”, it only seemed fitting that Physical Therapists re-evaluate how our professional and personal speech affects others. Non-offensive language is an issue that is drilled into our heads throughout PT school, and is a skill that must be learned through direct application. When dealing with patients of all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds, I’m sure that everyone can recall an instance where they have “put their foot in their mouth”. As most of you have probably heard about, even one of the most prominent figures of our nation is not excluded from this category.

It is especially important for Physical Therapists to monitor our language both in our professional and personal lives. In our personal lives, if we are not sensitive to language that will offend our clients, then what kind of an example of health care professionals are we? As a student, I especially know how hard it is to eliminate phrases from that which seemed “cool” in high school or college and fully grasp their offensive nature. Also, what kind of advocate for those with disabilities am I if I find humor in others jokes at their expense? I know that my personal struggle is one that I will work on daily and will take time to master. I encourage all health care providers to be especially cognizant of the nature of their personal speech and those around them because if we are not willing to stand up for the dignity of our clients then who will? Be an advocate!

Contributor: Diving Bell

Diving Bell

Diving Bell is a student physical therapist who was inspired by author Jean-Dominique Bauby (Diving Bell & the Butterfly) to make a creative outlet for her thoughts. Since she is in the process of formally being accepted in the profession she thought it was best to let her opinions be free like a butterfly while hiding her identity in a diving bell. Her interests include geriatrics and neurological disabilities. If she has the opportunity to get her nose out of her textbooks, then she enjoys cooking, tennis, and traveling as far away as student loans allow.

2 Replies to “Be An Advocate”

  1. Nicely said, Diving Bell. Well written, too.

    I would only take issue with your word-byte-bumper-sticker ending sentence. Taking personal responsibility for our own behavior (language) is a commendable message I can support. I just think you move from that to a sentence that is so broad in recommendation it dilutes your original message.

  2. Great post, Diving Bell. I just started my DPT program and we are discussing the issue of Professionalism. Our classes are online this summer (intro classes and a way to get to know one another before we begin our PBL curriculum). The discussion was about professionalism in the workplace and I brought up our professionalism outside of the workplace as well. I was recently out to dinner with some friends who are all college professors. We were having a fun and loud conversation–nothing offensive but it did make me stop and think that I now have a new level of professionalism to maintain. Any one of the other customers could be my patient in the future and I would not want that person to recall me using inappropriate language even if the language was understood as a joke by my group of liberal friends. Thanks for your post and I intend to share it with my class.

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