I’m not kidding you, this was a conversation that one of my colleagues overheard recently on a train.
Student 1 (let’s call him Jason): I’m going to start my own business.
Student 2 (let’s call him Mateo): Me too—I’m never going to work for someone else.
Jason: I know, right? And here’s what I’m going to do—I’ll get all my friends and family who have extended benefits plans to come to me and then invoice them for the maximum for each of their plans.
Mateo: Right. You don’t even need to treat them.
Jason: You don’t even need to see them!
I hope this conversation makes your flesh crawl a little. I hope that you think, like I do, that there is something terribly wrong when newcomers to the profession are planning to use their education and credentials to make as much money as possible without thinking one thought about patients.
I know that the financial pressures continue to grow year after year, and that it’s much harder to earn a good living as a physiotherapist today than it was in your parents’ time. And yet, I want to believe that physio students go through the incredibly competitive process of getting admitted to a university physical therapy program because they truly want to treat patients, to make people well, to keep people mobile.
Shari Hughes and I met two amazing groups of PTs at the Ottawa Hospital last month. They told us that there aren’t enough hours in the day, or dollars in the budget, to provide the care that they want to provide for their patients—and it’s breaking their hearts. I would trust that group of PTs with my mom or my children without a doubt.
It’s hard to imagine that with the kind of attitude those soon-to-be health care professionals displayed on the train, that they will make caring for patients or quality care a priority. I hope my children or mom doesn’t see one of them: What a waste of time and money that would be.
I’ve spoken with many of you who are able to balance making a nice living with providing high-quality care. So this blog is addressed to you: Make those students on the train understand that even if they were only joking, every time someone acts or talks like that it makes the profession look bad. A patient’s access to care depends on a pool of worthy, qualified and ethical physiotherapists.
Showing my age, and (mis)quoting The Jackson Five: Don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch.
How about you? What would you say or do if a student or colleague said something like this to you?
College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
Standard for Professional Practice—Fees & Billing