There are many who know me that are critical of the time I spend treating people in the clinic. They assert that I should be spending my time writing and working on more important projects than treating one person at a time in the clinic. While I understand their point, perhaps better than anyone, there are hidden costs to limiting my time in the clinic.
First, and perhaps foremost, I happen to find it very rewarding. There is a sense of reality that teaching does not provide. Most of the clients I see do not know that I teach, nor do they care. They just want someone to help them hurt less. It truly is a meritocracy in the highest order. They do not ask for a resume, nor will they cut me any slack if I do not help them. Yet, when successful, I have a high standing in their perception of health care. This is only right, I have earned it; it was not given to me by my degree.
There is something fundamentally sound about this process. When I see one of my clients performing or resuming an activity previously limited, it gives me great satisfaction. When I am failing to help someone, I cannot get them out of my thoughts.
The second reason to be a clinician is that teachers who teach and do not practice fall into the trap of having easy answers for every question. In the clinic, you can tell yourself anything you want, but results are the only facts that actually count in the end. It is a yes/no world and I like that. Clients don’t want to philosophize over poor results, but some therapists do.
I find comfort in the wisdom of these words from long ago:
Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive view of the admitted facts. Hence those who dwell in intimate association with nature and its phenomena are more able to lay down principles such as to admit to a wide and coherent development; while those to whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of facts are too ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations.
Here’s to all the hardworking therapists of the world; working hard to best serve the clients who grace their treatment rooms. It’s a holy thing indeed.