Great Quotes in Medicine | One Big, Happy Family

Posted on January 27, 2011


Health care team

When we're not tugging on our stethoscopes or confidently crossing our arms, we like to poke you with things.

It’s no secret that some medical specialties look down on their colleagues – for example to the Internist, the Surgeon may be a “scalpel jockey,” and .  Doctors and nurses get into their occasional tiffs as well – in fact, the worst displays of passive-aggressiveness I’ve seen have been between physicians and nurse practictioners (NPs).  What’s less often seen is hostility between primary health care providers and Allied Health Professionals, probably because they have little interaction and because they don’t directly threaten their livelihood.

Be that as it may, I wasn’t surprised to hear this particularly condescending aside about Physical Therapists from a recent talk by a Rheumatologist:

“Physical therapy will help [patients with osteoarthritis], especially if it involves muscle strengthening.  Very often the Physical Therapist is a 23 or 24 year old jock who’s used to taking care of athletes that have gotten injured while playing some sport.  [They] look at these 82 year old women, and think that they’re the quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and that, they’d better rehabilitate them because next season, the guy’s got to get back on the playing field. . .

. . . So, you have to be careful with the Physical Therapy, and warn the therapist, very often, that this is an elderly, somewhat fragile individual, and no major exercises [are] going to restore [their previous state of health] – it will probably just make it worse.  And so, you have to keep an eye on the Physical Therapist, and likewise, the Occupational Therapist.

Ouch – snuck a jab at another profession in there at the end (I wonder what he has to say about yoga instructors)!  Don’t you just get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re reminded that the members of your health care “team” are confident in each others’ training & abilities?