My Life As A Physical Therapist – Part 14

Written by: Yaffa Liebermann PT,GCS,CEO

Relationships at Work — The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

You are a sensitive person but surprisingly your co‑workers have the same level of sensitivity. Remember that the patients are people too.  They want to be treated with respect, courtesy, and compassion.  Put yourself in their shoes and act accordingly.

Forget the expression, “It doesn’t matter what you say” in reality it matters how you say it.  It does matter what you say.   Sometimes people say things to you in the wrong tone of voice but do not have the slightest intention of hurting you.  People have their own agenda and do not think about you all the time so, if you hear something unacceptable, please verify the meaning before you become upset.

Do think about every word you say.  There are no secrets in the department.  Once you put your thoughts into a sentence, they become public domain.  You never know how someone else might interpret your statements.  For this reason, always focus on the most positive aspects of people’s personalities.

Yaffa practicing with a therapist on how to use a belt for safety transfer

DO’s and DON’Ts

  • Do ‑ Be nice.  Have a smile on your face and act accordingly.  Be cheerful in the department. It will help your coworker and your patients.
  • Do NOT‑ Share your problems with the patients.  You are there to listen to them, they are not in therapy to help you solve your personal problems.
  • Do ‑ Share your problems with your co‑workers.  They are your friends and will give you advice when you ask for
  • Do NOT‑ Wish for the day to come to an end verbally and never let your patient’s know such.  They are the people who support your job and whose feelings you should protect.
  • PTA practicing going up and down stairs

    Do ‑ Give heartfelt compliments to others.  You can elevate the quality of care by giving compliments on treatment related subjects:  good treatment technique, unique exercises, positive ideas to improve programs, strong encouragement to patients.  When you become a director, it is especially important to appreciate other people’s qualities as the employees will rise up to your level of expectation.

  • Do NOT ‑ Judge or be too critical.  Most people try to do their best, and maybe someone else’s best is not what you anticipate.  Encourage others to do better.
  • Do NOT ‑ Hold a grudge. Clarify the issue, talk about it, analyze it, forgive and let it go.
  • Do NOT – Be late – Patients are waiting for you at a certain time and arrange the entire day around your visit.
  • Do ‑ When substituting for a co‑worker, tell the patient that though you may have a different technique and approach, you both have the same functional goal.  Advise the patient to extract the best techniques from all the therapists he meets.
  • Do ‑ Take a work related social problem home with you.  Sleep on it.  See if it lessens or diminishes during the night.  If the problem does not lessen with time, approach it at work in the most professional way and at the best time, solve the conflict and move on.
  • Do ‑ Communicate every piece of information you want others to know.  People cannot read your mind.  Remember, the distribution of information is extremely important in the field of therapy and for the appropriate departments to function.
  • Do NOT ‑ Assume that something is being done the way you would like it to be done.  Do not expect anyone to transfer important information to others without being told.  Other people do not always see important information and may not pass it on.
  • SLP practicing speech with a patient

    Do ‑ Delegate but do not abduct.   Follow-up on every assignment you gave to other, if they got stuck and might need your help but too shy to ask.

  • Do ‑ Plan and implement projects together.  You can always work by yourself, if you wish, however working together on a project can give two therapists a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of achieving a common goal.  Group projects improve morale and also improves the productivity of the department.
  • Do ‑ Respect other therapists.  If patients treated by other therapists demonstrate great strides, ask the therapists what techniques they were using and implement them.  You will learn a lot from your co‑workers.  Sharing techniques will help you grow as a therapist.  You will learn even more if you constantly ask your patients for feedback.
  • Do NOT ‑ Be shy to ask your fellow therapists about different treatment/documentation techniques.  It is a complement to be questioned about a technique which has proven its effectiveness.  We (as professionals) want to share what we know.
  • Do report to authorities or to your superior if you see something unethical being done by fellow therapists or by nursing staff.  If possible talk with the care giver first and then report to the next level up, to look into the issue.
  • Practicing with a patient safe gait

    Do – Continue to enhance your professional knowledge.  If you are treating a patient and are not very familiar with his or her injury or difficulty, research treatments and techniques which may solve the patient’s problem(s).  Write down your findings and bring your research back to the department with you.  You may want to share your research with the patients.  They will appreciate any effort you make to help.

  • Do – Take courses that are offered by your association or whatever you find you like to master.
  • Do ‑ Learn from your mistakes.
  • Do – Follow your leader ideas and help her/him to implement it. Be a team player and listen to therapist who needs a friend to help them.
  • Do – Volunteer to take a project or a section at work. You will help your supervisor and you will be proud of your achievement in addition to treating patient.
  • Do – Join your professional organization. If you will not care for present and future of your organization- who will? You are not doing it for the organization- you protect your own profession
  • OTR practicing walking to the refrigerator

    Do ‑ Respect the departmental dress code and always dress If you want to demonstrate your uniqueness, do so by using different treatment techniques not different dress codes.  The most professional uniform is always clean and pressed.  Your professional dress code will give the patients a feeling of a person that has honor and importance.

  • Do – Help the patient to connect with his family especially in the Covid era.
  • Do NOT –  Sit on your laurels . If you were successful in treating one patient, do not take it for granted that the next one is the same or will be an easy treatment. Each patient is an individual who needs your entire attention and focus.

Always strive to do better.

More to come.


  1. Floraine on March 23, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Excellent!!’ I need to attend your workshop on Posture, I don’t like how I stood in that picture 😀

  2. Floraine on March 23, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    Excellent! I need to attend your workshop on Posture. I don’t like the way I stood in that picture😀

  3. Amy on March 24, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for sharing these important words!
    It can help to be reminded of how to be our best selves which sometimes gets lost in the day to day routine and stresses of our lives. Have a great day 🙂

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