The Monday Memo
December 17, 2012 PITT DPT FACULTY
When I volunteered to write a guest post for our community, I couldn’t have known the unimaginable sorrow our nation as a whole would be experiencing. The tragedy that befell Newtown Connecticut is truly a nightmare come to life. Please pray for the children, teachers, and school officials who lost their lives in this inexplicable act of violence and those who continue to grieve. We can all sympathize with those who’ve lost loved ones but we can never truly empathize with someone who has lost a loved one to random violence, especially a child. #PrayForNewtown
While listening to the President mourn with those in the community two quotes really struck home:
“To end these tragedies we must change…”
“Surely we can do better than this…”
I’m going to take a few liberties but stay with me and give me a little latitude. The first quote had a number of interpretations, gun control not being the least, but, after more reflection, I realized this could be interpreted as personal change as well. What can we change? Well, isolation is one thing. Our nation is drifting apart in ideology and our communities and relationships are the casualties. Can you tell me the names and birthdays of more than 3 of your neighbors? Likes and dislikes? Their occupation? In the past the street or block you lived on was an extension of your family. I remember my mother caring for the neighbor who had a stroke while his wife was in the hospital. Now, I’m not sure I’d even know if my neighbor was in the hospital. But let’s increase the magnification and look at our student body. How much you know about your classmates. Can you name them all, first and last? What about undergraduate schooling? How about that non-traditional student, what makes them tick? If we take a critical look at this the reality is we know less than we think we do about the people with whom we spend much of our time. How can we expect to get to know our patients if we can’t get to know our colleagues? This lack of knowledge is one of the precursors to our own isolation and has the potential to limit or effectiveness as clinicians.
The second quote “surely we can do better than this” needs only a single word response: Amen. We have to do better than this. As physical therapists we have a closer relationship with patients than many other medical professionals. Our sometimes daily contact with patients puts us in a unique position to recognize those who feel isolated and engage them in a community. We’ll never know who truly feels socially isolated but creating an environment where someone cares can change lives. The psychological effect we can have as physical therapists is undeniable. The difficult part is extending our own personal boundaries to carry the burden with a patient in need. Sometimes the most effective therapy is the ear that listens while the patient is exercising. In my life, it’s only when I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone that I’ve seen true change in others and myself.
In closing, during this holiday season remember there is always someone in need. Reach out to them, even if you don’t get a response. Sometimes it’s enough to know that someone else is thinking of you. The Physical Therapy community has experienced a surge in conversation, attention, and potential collaboration via social media. Let’s use this to our advantage. Engage those lurking and assist those not involved in the conversation. Social Media is an excellent medium to engage those who would otherwise be lost in the margins. Finally, consider change… What kind of change can we affect? As the nation becomes increasingly polarized and these events cause an internal “contraction reaction” I would encourage you to resist this. Each time you feel this, reach out to someone and engage them. You can never know the true effect of your ripples but I can guarantee you’ll make no waves if you never throw the rock.
It’s been a privilege having the student voice of PittPT. Please have a happy and safe holiday and continue to pray for those who can’t pray for themselves right now. #PrayforNewtown.
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