Its been a big couple of weeks professionally. One of the clinics I work at has elected to end our mutual contract – which is not a huge deal, I had been debating how to end it myself since September 2016, because it’s been a waste of time and financially uneventful, but it still hurt that they pulled the plug before I did. Especially because part of the reason I had stayed was because they had asked for my patience in building a case load. But there were a lot of promises not kept there, so ultimately, once I get over the feeling of “But I wanted to dump YOU first!”, it’s for the best. The second, more pertinent professional upheaval is that two of the other therapists I work with (there are only four full time therapists at my full time clinic), are leaving on the 31st. One, a very good friend of mine, gave a months notice and it was not a surprise. The other, my manager, who has been amazing and a true support system, just gave two weeks notice, so she can go and open her own clinic. Both losses are going to hurt. Not because they will have any impact on my case load, but I will miss having them around.
For the past year, since the manager started, the clinic has become a really positive oasis. It helps that she went through, and came to terms with, her own struggle with unexplained infertility, so she is really the only person I know personally who knows exactly how hard some days are. She’s also just a natural leader: She understands how to motivate, support, and engage her employees. In short, she is an excellent manager, and took a clinic that had been slowly failing and was falling apart and made it into a thriving, positive work environment. I am going to miss her more than I want to admit – both personally and professionally. She is someone I admire as a therapist, and I love as a friend.
Although I will miss him a great deal as well, the friend who is leaving the same day will be less jarring – he only moved back into town in January after being gone for over a year, and our friendship has already survived living thousands of Km apart. He’s an amazing person, and my favourite hiking buddy, but not having him at the clinic won’t be the end of our relationship at all.
Both are leaving because the giant country-wide company I work for treats their employees like they are expendable. Never mind that we are the commodity they are selling: It is our skill set, personality, training, and client care that is being marketed and purchased. It is our clinic environment that keeps the same clients coming back when they get re-injured. And unfortunately, my discipline as a Kinesiologist is not covered by most private health care plans, so it is harder to find a full time job here… the Physiotherapists have a much easier time finding a new position elsewhere when they are fed up. So the two leaving this week are the 9th and 10th physios I have worked with in this one clinic in less than 3.5 years. You would think I would get used to the constant change, and I suppose I have, to some extent. But it is still utterly exhausting to have to re-build professional relationships with each new batch of physios, fully expecting that in another 6-10 months, I’ll be doing it all over again.
I love what I do for a living. I love helping my patients learn how to move again, and guiding them through the rehabilitation process. I find it fascinating to discover each individuals personal needs and priorities, and to build a program that fits their life, not the ideal that is arbitrarily set by their insurance adjustor. I get a window into the most private, painful, frustrating part of my patients lives… and if they let me, I try to find a way to make it better. And I am very good at it. I don’t know if I am more empathetic than normal, or if I get lucky, but I am able to understand peoples needs and to build positive therapeutic relationships. I also love my patients – they matter to me, their wellbeing is important. And lets be honest, on days when I don’t want to get out of bed, I will do it for them even when I can’t do it for me. However exhausted I feel at the end of the day, however emotionally drained, and however much I know I cannot make everything better for every single person, if I can make one person feel slightly better, then my day is worth working. There is a reason I don’t take much in the way of holidays – I discovered years ago that too much down time and I get in my own way. Work gives me a sense of purpose, and I find meaning in my vocation.
All that being said, I hate the company I work for. I hate feeling undervalued, and slighted, and the constant revolving door of colleagues because for some reason, they cannot recognize how much more it costs the company to constantly be hiring and scrambling for qualified therapists instead of just keeping the ones they have happy. The regional manager is a doofus (an excellent therapist, but a doofus as a manager), who basically functions as a scapegoat for the area manager’s folly. The area manager is …. oh, I don’t even know how to describe them. They have been trained how to “manage” but don’t understand the basics of human interactions, or the value of basic respect.
Sometime this week, I have to put together my final assignment of this semester – the theme of which has been interprofessional collaboration and teamwork. Basically, I have to put together a powerpoint for a specified target audience regarding how teamwork functions best in a health care environment. I am tempted to put together a slightly tongue in cheek presentation with the upper levels of management in mind, highlighting what they currently do, and they research that suggests that they are idiots. It might happen… I might not get an amazing grade (It will meet expectations, and I will pass, but I somehow doubt a pointed jab at upper management is likely to earn me high praise), but it might be worth it just to take out some of my ire at this stupid company in a way that won’t actually affect my employment. I should point out that I only have to put together the powerpoint and specify my intended audience, the upper management will never see, or even be aware of, the presentation. I won’t get fired, but I might get some peace of mind.
I just have to believe that if I continue to work hard, focus on my patients, and adhere to my own code of ethics, all this shit will eventually work out.