Why being an expert means you DON'T have an answer for everything.
Words by Craig Hankridge
As driven practitioners, we dedicate much of our time to constant iteration, refinement and learning to improve our clinical results. Within our specialties, we deal with similar presentations and cases each and every day.
Throughout these 'typical' cases, we often have presentations that don't quite add up. Or we tick all of the boxes, do all of the right things and the outcome still doesn't eventuate as planned. The reflex when we are an expert is to offer the patient more and more potential limitations, causative factors or reasons why they haven't responded.
To truly be an expert, this needs to change.
You are not meant to know everything, no one ever has and no one ever will. A world-class practitioner knows their strengths as well as they know their limitations. Your patient will respond better to the clarity that honesty will provide. Choose that clarity instead of potential 'what if' scenario's that may be affecting the patient's progress or a stubborn commitment to continue interventions that haven't worked.
Using lines such as:
- "Typically we would expect greater progression to this point, as you aren't responding as expected we will involve imaging/specialist referral/other allied health assessment to aid in gaining clarity for you going forward"
- "From our assessments so far there isn't a clear path of diagnosis, because of this we are going to implement (whatever is needed) to gain a better understanding of how to help you best"
- "Many of our clinical tests show that is it most likely 'pathology x', however, my colleague Mr Bruno Mars is has seen quite a number of cases like yours and a secondary assessment from him will be helpful in progressing you back to 100% as soon as possible"
These are just examples but highlight the ways in which you can position yourself as an expert, secure in your knowledge and offer the client the best way forward. This may not always involve you, but that's okay. We are here to help.
Action point: The next time you are faced with this scenario in the clinic, try one of the lines above (in your own words of course) and commit to helping the client in the best possible way. They will thank you for it and more often than not will become one of your best patients over the long term.
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