As physiotherapists, our success is measured by how happy and satisfied our patients are with our treatment and whether we are able to get them to engage with the recommended physiotherapy program. I list below 6 qualities which a physiotherapist must possess to be able to develop a great therapeutic relationship with patients and keep them happy. These have been extracted from a research conducted by Potter et al (2003) to identify the characteristics of a good physiotherapist. Check how many of these you already possess and get working on others as these are not rocket science.
1. Inter-personal skills – Listens, body language builds trust, demonstrates empathy, asks appropriate questions, appropriately introduces him/herself, counsels patient, makes eye contact and speaks directly to the patient, receptive to what the patient has to say, demonstrates respect for the patient’s point of view.
- Demeanour – Caring, friendly, inspires confidence, Supportive, considerate, patient, genuine, polite, has a positive disposition, non-judgmental, enjoys the job, not egotistical
- Educates the patient – Gives clear explanations about the problem and treatment at an appropriate level, explains what he/she is doing and why during assessment and treatment, Uses visual aids and gives written information to help the patient understand the problem and treatment, provides feedback on a visit-by-visit basis, demonstrates exercises, gives specific instructions e.g. what to do and what not to do
- Professional behavior – Has appropriate skills and knowledge, is honest and knows his/her limitations, seeks further knowledge as required to help patients, keeps up-to-date with the patient’s current and past history, Puts patient’s needs first, dedicated and wants to be physiotherapist, communicates with others also working with the patient, suggests alternatives that might help the patient, keeps up-to-date with skills and knowledge, maintains confidentiality, maintains professional distance, treats each patient as an individual and appreciates differences between people e.g. physical, cultural
- Diagnostic and treatment expertise – Provides self-help strategies e.g. a home exercise program and/or advice on what the patient can do for him/herself, follows up and actively involves the patient, provides an appropriate treatment to help the patient’s problem e.g. pain relief, improve movement function, Provides a diagnosis, ‘hands on’ treatment, distracts the patient from their pain or problem
- Creates a positive environment – Creates a pleasant and welcoming environment within the physiotherapy practice, the physiotherapist puts the patient at ease during examination and treatment, is clean and hygienic, punctual and reliable
Within these 6 broad categories of qualities, several other sub-qualities are also listed. Are any missing? Share your views in the comments below.
Author: Trent Morrow
Bio: Trent Morrow is a physiotherapist at L & B Counseling services in Charlotte, NC for individuals, children, family counseling and trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy.