At my work, a texting system is the main communication between the front desk and the therapists. When a patient arrives, we get a text or if there is a walk-in evaluation we will get a text. Sometimes a text will simply be an update or a question, but for the most part, it alerts us that a patient has arrived.
So, at 7:56 am my phone vibrates. I take it out and my 8 am patient is here. This continues one after another after another. Your patient is here. Your patient is here. Your patient is here. At 11:27 am, I feel the vibration and instead of “your patient is here” it reads “we need more clipboards if anyone has any.” I’m met with a sigh of relief. It isn’t my 11:30 patient. I have a minute to myself. The relief I feel is significant. I shouldn’t be this excited that the front desk needs clipboards, but I am. It is a break in the monotony.
The morning, the day, actually the entire week has felt like one text after another that my patient is here. At this moment, I’m dreading the text that my 11:30 patient is here. Which doesn’t make any sense because I really love seeing my 11:30 patient. She’s doing well and the visits always feel rewarding for the both of us. But, on this particular day, I feel like I’m holding my breath.
I’m caught between hoping she cancels and hoping she shows up. In reality, I don’t want her to cancel, but at this moment I’m just dying for the monotony to stop.
I feel weird and guilty calling what I do monotonous. Every day is a different patient, a different presentation, and no two sessions are exactly alike. It is not like I am on an assembly line, but it feels like I am.
And, I start thinking is this all there is? Is it just going to be patient after patient until when? Well, I guess I have a dentist appointment in a few weeks. And then I stop… am I looking forward to a dentist appointment?
It wasn’t always like this. I used to wake up ready to see patients. I used to lose myself in sessions. All of a sudden it would be lunch and then all of sudden it would be Friday. I’d have energy to look up research and would want to discuss patient cases every chance I got.
That’s not how this day feels. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I know I feel off. I wonder if something is wrong with me or wrong with my career. I wonder what I need to do to get out of this slump, to break this monotony.
But, my phone buzzes…. And my 11:30 is here. And the feeling starts again. Is this all there is?
We love the work we do as PTs and we get to see the difference we make. Then why do we feel like we are missing something? And is there anything we can do about it?