As allied healthcare professionals, many of us joined the profession with the goal of helping others. O&P is a unique field that can, at times, blur the lines between healthcare professional and friend. Because we typically treat patients over the long term and require in-depth information about their activities, we get to know our patients on a level that other healthcare professionals rarely achieve.
In my clinic, I really invest in getting to know my patients on a personal level, and I do this for multiple reasons. First, I want them to be as comfortable as possible when they visit. This is crucial to obtain the information I need to treat them appropriately. I take off the metaphorical lab coat and completely engage in the details and ask probing questions. For example, if a patient tells me he or she wants to return to skiing, I ask for clarification: water or snow? Combo skis, slalom, or barefoot? Standing or seated? It’s best to find out before you start down the wrong path.