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  • Kristin McNealus, DPT, MBA

After Listening, Educate.

Listening is a big part of customer service, but do not underestimate the value of sharing your knowledge. Educate your clients, no matter how simple it may seem to you. Explain what you have found, and why you are doing what you are doing during the treatment. People like to understand and be part of their care. They may not always get everything, but do your best. Tie in how lifestyle choices impact the impairment you are treating. Use the sessions to help your clients better understand nutritional choices, and the importance of taking their medications. Discuss the side effects of their medications, and the importance of staying hydrated. Tell them how and why the exercises you are doing will help them reach their goal. Give them the knowledge and let them choose what to do with it. Understanding more will give people a sense of control, which is comforting. And they will see you as the expert that you are.

We study for many years to learn about the body, and then spend our livelihoods getting even more understanding. Most people do not. And things that we may think are common sense are not. Educate, again, even if the topic seems simple.

Again, we spend more time with our clients than most health care professionals. We have a responsibility to inform them about how to be in their optimal condition. By educating, we are also giving them an understanding of our educational level. I know many of us who have doctorate degrees do not have our patients call us “Doctor,” and this could be another topic to discuss, but most people do not realize how many years of schooling we went through to make us the experts that we are.

I think we often also forget some basic lessons that are not as basic to our clients. They cannot name all of the muscles that stabilize the scapula, or why strengthening them can contribute to less shoulder pain. Even if you are treating the third shoulder pain patient that day, remember that it is all new to him. Take the time to explain everything again.

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