A few weeks ago we celebrated one year in the life of our little network and our 300th member. Since our inception we’ve received countless emails from people saying how glad they are that the network exists, and how nice it is that it’s being run by such attractive, intelligent and wise people! (They’re particularly complementary about our attractiveness).
In all seriousness, it does seem as if the network is an idea whose time has come. Maybe there are enough physiotherapists now with the confidence and experience to tackle some of the thorny questions that now beset us? Maybe knowing that there are other people who think ‘differently’ has given people encouragement to join in? Maybe we are starting to see the benefits of studying and thinking ‘outside’ physiotherapy and bringing those ideas back into our profession? Whatever it is that’s caused the surprising growth of the Network in such a short space of time, it’s clear that the CPN is functioning as a new forum for ideas about physiotherapy.
We thought it might be nice to profile one of the people who had recently become a member of the Network. So when Robin (a made up name) applied, we asked why. This is what they said…
Robin is a 38-year-old male physiotherapist who graduated three years ago from a large European physiotherapy school. He is married to a nurse and has two small children.
“I have a disability which is not visible, but has made it a struggle to go through the education system and get employment. On the other hand it has helped me understand a lot about what goes on in the lives of the people I aim to help.
“I work as a community-based falls prevention therapist, primarily with people 65 years of age and older.
“The idea that the individual has the responsibility for their own personal health and circumstances (while at the same time accepting and following what “experts” define as health and/or meaningful activity) is really prevalent in my area of work, and it’s something I think is really problematic.
“Health care providers are increasingly using motivation and compliance as power constructs in which the resourceful and “compliant” patients receives a better intervention then their “noncompliant” and “unmotivated” peers, with an often complete disregard for the social contexts. I find it hard to accept that there is a lack of alternative methods and tools to ensure equal treatment for all citizens. I’m opposed to the way words and concepts like rehabilitation, empowerment and autonomy are used to cover up a financial agenda and how I am expected to accept and sell that agenda.
“I am sceptical of the way it has become harder to question the current state of affairs without being accused of being disloyal. I feel as if I am constantly being asked to put my loyalty to the healthcare system above that of my patients. I question the use of evidence based medicine as a means to explain everything, and in so doing downgrading the human and social sciences as something lesser and irrelevant to physiotherapists. I think physiotherapy has a lot to offer as a way to create meaning in the lives of the people we try to help.
“My work has made me question many things about healthcare, physiotherapy and my role within it, but I’ve felt very alone with these questions in the past. I see a need for the Network as a counter-balance to the path the physiotherapy profession and the health care system is going in. I’m looking forward to working with other members of the group and to the opportunity to educate myself further beyond what my traditional education has offered me.”
It’s not unusual to get emails from members expressing similar frustrations to this. It seems most of us just want to experience the full possibilities offered by the physical therapies, but people are being increasingly frustrated by the culture, economics and politics of their working world. Perhaps the CPN can be a place where we develop ourselves to feel more confident to be a ‘positive force for an otherwise physiotherapy’ so that people no longer feel that they are being disloyal to their profession when they think and practice differently? Wouldn’t that be a good thing.