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It’s called small talk bro…it would be weird if you didn’t chat with patients.
Sounds like your coworkers have some impaired social skills
M64.99 Limited Social Skills of the Soul
Your co-workers are dumb. Some patients like small talk and feeling appreciated. Others don’t. It depends on who you’re talking to and how you read them. If anyone says they don’t want to give out some information about their life, then it is weird. You’re good OP. When I was an aide I was able to learn a lot about people and I still use those skills as a PTA.
It is really all about what the patients personalities are like. What is weird and off putting is when the PT either forces no small talk or small talk to a patient that is more friendly/open vs reserved/private respectively
Yes! I worked as a tech before. I had limited patient interaction, but still knew everyone. That practice in building rapport was so helpful!
Op maybe the only person that elderly patient talked to today. They probably dont leave the house often because they're possibly disabled. I try and talk to the widows in my neighborhood for this exact reason. They'll talk your ear off too.
A PT gave me some good advice when I was a new grad. He said that, yes there are certain things we have to accomplish during our sessions but our jobs (in the SNF setting) are often mostly "just hanging out with old people." His point being that we are there to not only facilitate healing their physical ailments but also nourish their social and emotional well-being as well. Build rapport. Make small talk. Fuck the haters.
My favorite part of my job is meeting people and learning about their stories. I met a guy who worked on the Apollo program! And another who had been to over 100 countries in his life. Also a person from my hometown in NY (currently in CA).
You don't know what a person's story is until you ask
I'm working with a retired Blue Angel. He's so chill and yet has the coolest stories. He doesn't flaunt it either. I've had to draw the stories out of him. Hoping he can get better ROM in his shldr
I had a 95 y/o patient a few months ago who stormed the beach at Normandy. He still had a bullet in his back from getting shot! I’ve gotten to meet so many interesting people in my career and the stories I’ve heard have been amazing. I can’t imagine not talking to my patients about their lives. My job would be so boring if I didn’t
That's insane! Definitely one of my fav parts of the job
Not weird at all! I love that I can chat with my PT. It makes it so pleasant to be there. Your colleagues are the weird ones.
Glad to know our efforts go appreciated!!
I second this!!
Are you kidding me, I’m like the nosiest person in the world when it comes to my patients.
We all know Jonathan. We could hear you all day today. So. Loud. Ugh!
NOSEY-EST, not NOISEY-EST.
Reading comprehension wasn’t my to subject. lol. Also, that was very loud. 😉
I know where my patients work. Where they retired from. Where they live. Where they grew up. What kind of music they like. I know their vacation plans, they probably know mine. I know what sports their grandkids play.
Being a good therapist includes being a decent personable human that a patient can open up to and feel comfortable talking to. I’ve seen plenty of students come through who are super smart with the best, newest techniques and information, but they have the personality of a shoebox and the patients dislike them.
Wtf else u supposed to do for an hr
I tried to relate to another patient by saying that most of my family also live in a different country and that same coworker also laughed at me…
What country do you live in? Maybe it's a culture thing? As an American, I'd say OP is the better tech. Rapport is key! You good fam. Small talk, laughter, and the feeling that someone actually remembers details about you can be extremely comforting to some people when they're dealing with crappy life stuff
I’m in the US
Yeah, you are a normal aide. The aides that I knew who were subpar had your coworker's attitude. They weren't as invested and the pts didn't like them as much.
They must be American
You tell them the exercise to do. When they start to do the exercise, you say nothing. Best practice is to stare at them with alternating facial expressions of confusion and disgust. When they complete the exercise, you say "Ok then", pause for a few seconds, shake your head, and tell them the next exercise.
Ah now I remember this in the textbook
No, showing interest in patients beyond their impairment is important to not only treating them as a whole, but creating a relationship that improves their trust and experience of your clinic. I almost immediately ask what they do for fun or what they did for work 10 minutes into an evaluation.
Also the more the patients like where they go and the people they see, the better they'll get.
However there are certain innocent topics you should tiptoe around, as they may be uncomfortable. Examples like:
Asking a female patient about their husband or vice versa. They may be LGBTQ. Always refer to them as a spouse.
Asking about children unprovoked can be difficult for those with miscarriages/infertility. They'll likely bring their children into conversation if they want.
Avoid intimate details of your life or theirs
Never politics or religion. Never ever ever ever. Even if you agree on their stance.
I enjoy your website. That recipe on mung beans was A-mazing!
The internet is too much "Betty White this, Betty White that"
Do people not ask about their work/hobbies? Those are pretty important in order to know what we need to get them back to being able to do
That tends to start out much more formalize for me because of the whole “getting back to”. Which also means partners and kids usually get brought up at the eval because if you have to go it alone or if you have kids to take care of it affects your demands.
Thanks for the guidelines. I occasionally asked about children so that insight is helpful
As long as you're decent at reading people and don't stray into controversial or iffy subjects, I think it's great that you can build a comfortable and fun rapport with patients. Just don't be *that* guy--the one that keeps nattering on with a patient that prefers not to chat.
As advised above, steer clear of polarizing and intimate topics.
Also, be aware that there are crazies out there. And by crazies, I mean stalkers. A determined person can easily find you with public information and paid search engines, but for goodness sakes, don't make it easy for them. And be aware that patients sometimes mistake professionalism and small talk as *interest*.
Don't listen to this person. "So, do you have any kids?" is a perfectly normal question to ask somebody. If Ethel has on a wedding ring then asking about her husband is perfectly normal, too. Yes they may be married to a woman, but the odds are very low and even then that doesn't make you a dick, it makes you mistaken and the patient won't be offended because it happens to them daily. Just don't be judgy is all.
Ya that is literally all I do. Patients like to know that you care its as simple as that. Half of what we do is physical and half of what we do is mental. Patients have told me they specifically appreciate when you learn about then b/c then you can help tailor their care to them and what they want to do functionally. ur coworker sounds like they are the one with the issue and patients probably don’t really like them gonna be honest……
They’re jealous. They’re trying to make you stop doing something they don’t really understand. Their fault. Their social skills are lacking
Don’t let them get under your skin. As long as you aren’t talking about sensitive subjects and your supervising PT doesn’t order you to stop, this is perfectly normal behavior. Patients like to feel appreciated and understood. This is part is how we do that.
“Where are you from originally?” is a great question to ask a patient because I’ve found that 99.5% of patients I’ve asked that to love giving an answer. People love talking about their hometowns.
Let’s rephrase your question: is it weird to build rapport with my patients?
We treat the patients, not just the condition. Your co-workers suck.
l don't like it personally. I'm going to PT,not to chit chat. I've had one tell me how his girlfriend from the youth got pregnant by mistake 4 months after they got together and it ruined his life and etc. 🙄 I was there for non surgical ACL rehab. Like l really don't care l'm here for the exercises.
Yes I acknowledge that not all patients are comfortable with sharing intimate parts of their lives. I can tell when they give short answered responses or not usually very talkative. Many patients however appreciate when we ask about their lives and actually get uncomfortable if you do not make conversation with them. It all depends on the person— no issue with not wanting to talk especially when a lot of people are in pain.
I'm a patient too, and I'm surprised by the top responses here because I agree with you 100%. I'm there for a medical reason not to give out my life story. This is starting to sound more annoying than going to a chatty hairdresser lol. I don't want my PT to know the location of where I work or live, or details of my personal life. I would be creeped out if they straight up asked. I'm OK with friendly small talk and discussing relevant things (like activities that might be affecting my condition) but that's about it.
Yup,l'm suprised so many people like talking about their personal lives. If l happen to come across someone who has the same hobby as me then l'm fine to talk about it but never about more personal things.The PT l went to even was dissapointed l wanted to return to cycling even though l tore my ACL in a very stupid cycling accident. I wanted to walk out right there and then as l was mostly back to cycling by the time l got to see them anyway.
You are correct—healthcare workers should not be talking about themselves. They should however ask the pts about there’s to get a better idea of their home life.
Sounds like the coworker doesn’t know how to connect but you do. Connecting with people is key in this profession, don’t feel weird about it.
There's patients that do so much better when you talk about the right thing. One lady somehow got to talking about a certain band, we blasted that shit on the speakers and lady did AMAZING that session the PT was impressed af. Another lady was a pretty insufferable "Karen", asked about the dog on her lock screen and she became so sweet and happy, she forgot about her pain at least temporarily. This was also peak covid so these people had no one to talk to in person. They thanked us for the socialization, it helped their mental health which will help physical health. So yeah, fuck your coworker
As a chronic pain sufferer and someone in first year of PT school, I can definitely attest to this! The mental game of chronic pain is very real!
Sounds like you're just being cautioned not to walk into an awkward situation as mentioned by someone else about accidentally asking them something that brings up pain/trauma/etc etc.. I can see how asking about family might do that. Maybe keep it surface-level at first, ask what food they like or something and use your judgment once you have that rapport built. Rapport is a get-out-of-jail-free card for these situations..
That being said, fuck that, you're supposed to know your patients on a personal level. humanism and putting the patient as a person first, and their condition second is pushed HARD at my PT school. Patient-first language and all that, "patient with paralysis," not, "paralyzed patient."
Idk if your end-goal is to pursue a DPT, but if it is, the subjective interview is massively important! It gives you direction on goal setting, medical hx, etiology, all these things that help plan the episode of care. It would be dumb to tell you not to practice this if your end-game is being a PT yourself.
On the reverse side, a PT who doesn't talk to patients like that must creep their patients out! Patients come in in pain, they're often guarding their Injury and don't know what to expect. Rapport = trust = less muscle guarding = better treatment. Imagine someone poking and proving at your injury, putting you through a program while not talking to you about it. Super weird!
Dude I was a tech when I was going through PT school and I had a coworker that would pull the same kind of stuff trying to make me seam like I was lazy or not working or “being too talkative.” When I asked the PTs/PTAs in the clinic they all said that the patients enjoyed working with me, and they really weren’t sure what she was talking about.
Turns out she was just jealous because we had the same job, but she had higher credentials and hadn’t been accepted into a PT school yet. It sounds to me like maybe your coworkers are just jealous of your ability to connect with patients.
Without being there it’s hard to say. Your examples seem harmless enough, and unfortunately ample amount of chit chat is expected in PT (I’ve been one for 10 years now). However, if several other coworkers are commenting that you’re getting too personal than maybe you should consider keeping the convo lighter. Either that or you work in a toxic clinic with catty coworkers who don’t like you 🤷♂️
I asked the Physical Therapist myself as she is ok with questions like these. She was honest with me and said my questions were fine. Plus the OA is always at the front desk and was basing their opinion based on what my coworker told them. I don’t mean to sound biased but that’s basically what happened
I’m a phlebotomist and I ask this. It eases the pain to get their mind off of something and everyone loves talking about themselves! I’m always asking about their kids what grade they’re in or their spouses or if they’re a child, what school is like or sports or pets etc. I don’t think it’s weird it’s not like you’re asking what street they live on. It’s just small talk! To distract them n to make them way more comfortable with you.
As a huge introvert, I absolutely DESPISE small talk and it’s one of the main reasons I will never work in an outpatient setting. People in inpatients settings are more often too focused on their rehab or too medically/cognitively compromised to have large amounts of small talk.
However, what you’re doing isn’t “weird” at all. Since society is primarily extroverted, many patients would prefer to engage in small talk and it will help to build rapport with them. Just don’t push it on someone who isn’t very chatty. I’d also stay away from anything too personal like family, politics, etc. I always hated patients asking me about my family and assuming because I’m young, both my parents are alive. I was CONSTANTLY reminded of my mom’s death every time this was brought up and my mental health struggled.
Doesn’t apply to you until/if you go to school but there’s nothing worse than doing cervical/shoulder manual therapy and people won’t look in your direction or give more than a one word answer. That’s a fast track to watching the clock and getting it over with. It’s somehow worse than the oversharing, too much eye contact goofballs.
100% took me about a year to realize this
No, not weird at all! I will say though there are some patients I’ve encountered who you can tell truly don’t like to talk about their personal life or hear about mine. So I usually try to make other small talk like random local restaurants or events. Usually I gather that information from other patients. I’m constantly saying things like “a patient of mine this morning told me that ____” and you can still develop the trust that way.
Also, there is definitely a line not to cross when it comes to personal life. Your coworkers must have a different one and it’s normal. I’m sure they just do non-personal small talk.
As health workers we must make sure to follow a bio-psycho-social model in order to give the best treatment to our patients. We must understand human beings as complex entities, not only reducing them to a pathology or a # in a paper. I think your co-worker is just being mean by not caring about their patients as you do.
Keep doing it, it will turn you in a very beautiful professional <3
Also, you can find out a lot about a patients illness through smalltalk (family, habits, diet, occupation, etc.)
As someone who has been to a lot of PTs, the ones that get to know me always end up also being better at the treatment because its easier to trust them more and they learn a lot about my life and pain from those conversations! Plus we both get great podcast/TV/restaurant recommendations.
I prefer when PTs would talk and ask me stuff. Made me so much more comfortable asking them about what I was doing. Definitely changes the experience.
Like nearly everyone else is saying, do not listen to your coworkers. From several levels, getting to know your patient's story is pertinent to success throughout rehab. Even those that are the "give me exercises and shut up" type will eventually open up about SOMETHING as long as you give them space. I'm the "super-open-book weirdo" type and a vast majority of my patients seem to enjoy my openness/ vulnerability.
You really just have to get a feel for your patient. Some love to chat and if you create a trusting open environment they will tell you their life story. Other patients are more to themselves and simply just want to do rehab and go home. I’m doing a rotation in inpatient rehab and it’s pretty much impossible to not make small talk about personal life when you’re seeing a person multiple times a day every day. But you should atleast try to build that rapport and then either tone it up or down based on how your patient responds
Yo if I couldn’t talk to patients I would not be able to be a tech or want to become a PT. First thing I ask is usually what did or what are you doing for the weekend but yeah I’m almost always asking about them. It makes time move much faster
I’m also a tech and I feel like I spend half the time at working talking to patients lol. You never know what someone may be going through in their lives and if I can make it better for an hour one to three times a week then I feel like I’m succeeding in my job. Your coworkers are some weirdos for that lol
Here’s a list of things my past PTs have said that make me uncomfortable:
Assuming I have a boyfriend/husband— put me in a position of lying or outing myself as a lesbian. Both PT 1 and 2 did this
Saying “girl/woman/female” in reference to me and my body frequently especially when it had nothing to do with the exercise— I’m queer. PT 1-3 did this
Complaining about mask mandates, being excited when they’re lifted, asking “have you gone anywhere without the mask yet?”— I’m a high risk patient. I have a disability that is caused by covid among other things; if I get covid, that condition will seriously worsen. Even if that was not the case, it made it clear they didn’t care about science or others personal comfort. PT 2 did this.
Looking at my velvet leggings and him then saying in reference to the woman assistant that’s in the room for a few moments at a time “if you weren’t in here I’d probably have to pet these”— I’m sorry wtf? Weird as hell and also I have trauma from men touching me so this was creepy and triggering. Also showed that he knew it was inappropriate but he just wanted to say it anyways. This was my last straw with PT 1.
Never discussed it irl, but his bio on the website discussed how much he enjoyed spending his time at a notoriously homophobic & pedo supporting mega church. This was my last straw with PT 2.
Edit: Forgot to add that PT 1 would constantly talk about how I was the weakest he’d ever seen in some exercises. I liked that PT 2 & 3 always only acknowledged wins & progress.
Other than these things, my PTs chatting with me is normal and makes the time go by faster. Your coworkers are tripping.
Dude. One of my favourite openers is how did you meet your partner. I steer away from questions about kids, as that has lead to tears a few times. You’re fine.
Make little notes so you can remember details and revisit them at the next appointment. How was your niece’s visit? What did you end up getting your granddaughter for her birthday?
My favorite question to ask my older (70+ population) is how they met their spouse. Fascinating stories and times were so much simpler.
What the hell? I find it odd they would think you were weird in doing that lol. Talk to patients like you’re their friend. That’s what I do. Good for both sides.
I’m a patient and my four weeks of PT would have been super awkward if they didn’t get to know me on some level. I’m trusting in these people to take away my pain, being able to talk to them as humans is a part of that.
I never delve into anyone’s personal lives. But I’m also not meant for this field and don’t like talking to people
Not at weird at all :)
Normal to me
Your coworkers are weird dude I’d even go as far to say ac large portion of our job in terms of education and compliance is based off rapport.
No, I always ask my patients where they’re from, if they’re retired, who they live with, if they have any pets, etc.
Not weird at all, I talk to my patients about so many things all the time, builds trust and gives comfort. Pass on the goodness.
Your co workers are dry and dumb. Don’t feel weird at all
I always ask questions to try and find something we have in common and can talk about during the treatment.
It's called making connections with your patients. I ask about my patients lives all the time. Your coworkers have probably been working in PT mills where you get like 30 seconds to talk to a patient and that's it.
Yeah your coworkers are weird man. I talk to my patients all the time about personal things. If you don’t talk about personal things what are you supposed to talk about? I show my patients my tattoos, favorite places to eat, my house remodel, etc. They invite me to their parties, talk about their business, and family matters.
As a therapist you’re there for emotional and psychological support as much as physical therapy.
Dunno if only pt s are supposed to contribute here but:
Your colleague is th3 weirdo.
I loved my pt for being my friend.
It's almost as if you guys are coaches for ill ppl or something lol
Building rapport is so important! Definitely talk with your patients and ask them questions, feel free to share personal info as you’re comfortable. Idk what setting you’re in or the professional relationship you have with your PTs, but sometimes you find out important info relative to tx that you can share with their PT too!
Please don’t ever feel bad about asking about people’s lives. My therapist always asks about my day and what I’m doing in my life. She knows the generics about my family and I enjoy the chitchat.
I'm not in Physical Therapy, I'm an RN, I do absolutely love you guys though. That being said it's extremely important for all of us to dig into people's lives. It's called holistic medicine, and people normally like to talk about themselves anyway, and that's where you get all the little clues that weren't in the report. It's how you fill in the blanks. that's what we're supposed to do. Just be yourself seems like you're doing fine for a lot of people you may be the only person in their lives that actually listens to them.
My kids need PT and now that you’ve mentioned it, I like the PT who talks to my kiddo. The one who just barks orders is his and mine least favorite. And some times he refuses and just says “I’m not doing this!” And then we’ve wasted an appt. Even though they’re both doing the same thing, and the mean one has more experience... we like the nice one more.
I don’t think it’s weird at all. I actually enjoy talking to my PT, he’s funny and very welcoming and just an all around chill dude. All of his PTAs are the same way and it actually makes me enjoy physical therapy even the hard exhausting parts.
I’m really sorry that this happened to you but this is an isolated situation because your therapists are criminals. If OP is not a stalker or sexual offender he is not doing this. Please do not discuss your legal case on the public internet. I would also highly recommend a PTSD therapist. I’d wager that virtually 100% of us know not to sexually harass people.
If you are currently in a legal dispute I would personally not discuss details. You’ve essentially outed your identity to those concerned parties.