About 5 years ago, a patient threw my gait belt at me. Hard. It hit me in the face, and it stung pretty badly. When the shock started to wear off, I stood there for a moment, facing this man while fighting back tears, and I thought, “I’m burned out.”
Rather than feeling empathy and compassion for a sick patient during his long road to recovery, I felt angry. I wasn’t proud for feeling that way, but it was how I felt in the moment. Angry and defeated.
I waited for the feeling to go away, but it didn’t. Perhaps it was because I had my own aches and pains to deal with, or perhaps it was because I never quite felt comfortable with others’ well-being in my hands. As hard as it is to admit, I sometimes wonder if I was ever meant to be a clinician.
When my patients felt depressed, I took their pain home with me. When they didn’t make improvements, I blamed myself. When I couldn’t achieve the hospital-imposed productivity standards, I questioned my own abilities. When I considered fudging my billing practices to achieve these standards, I questioned my own morality.
At the end of the day, I found solace in creating content. I began to dust the cobwebs off the old design software on my clunky laptop. I wrote copy for friends’ websites. And I started to think of myself as a content creator with a clinical background, rather than a clinician.
I think that was the most important step in my transformation.
Once I was able to truly see myself as something other than a clinician, I was able to get paid for my work. Now, I can truly say that I love my work and I love my career. It only seemed fitting to write my first blog post to explain the obvious question of why a physical therapist would decide to change careers. Thanks for reading 🙂