My first job as a PT back in 1992 was at a government funded clinic where I was to see several patients an hour as I’d run and carry their charts from room to room. I even knew some PTs who “saw” 8-12 patients an hour. I understood why: because the financial compensation from the government for PT was so low ($12.20 per visit), the clinic mandated PTs to see several patients in order to make ends meet. I felt rushed the whole day, like a headless chicken!
Then I moved to a private clinic where the caseload was a typical 4-patient an hour along with an assistant to help with modalities and a kinesiologist to help with exercise prescription. Once again, I felt rushed, running in between patients, while seeing 4 patients at the same time!
I fully understand why so many clinics depend so heavily on modalities: it gives the PT an excuse to juggle between patients. While one patient is on 20 minutes of IFC and another on 15 minutes of hot pack and another getting ultrasound from an assistant while you get to tend to the patient in front of you …it’s chaos!
Thankfully, in the past 2 decades I am no longer the headless physio I once was. I see only ONE patient at a time. My assessments are one hour and my follow-ups are 30 minutes or an hour based on need. I do not rely on modalities to fill my time.
I hated the feeling of being rushed in between patients and I know patients must have not liked being rushed either.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still busy, I am just not rushed. Even if I am 10-15 minutes behind schedule, I simply apologize to the patient by thanking them for their patience and calmly take them in.
No matter how many patients you see an hour, try to remain calm when you greet the patient. A good habit to get into is to stop, close your eyes, and take 3 slow breaths before seeing a new patient. Remember, patients don’t mind if a PT is busy; they mind if a PT is rushed!