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Last time we discussed Ephesians 5:15-16 and challenged ourselves to assess whether we were using our time with our patients wisely or unwisely. Click here if you need to get caught up. I hope that you spent some time reflecting on that passage and that discussion and began to pray about what to do. Today, I want to provide a few general ideas to help us redeem all the time we spend with our patients.
Listen to Your Patients. We probably already do a significant amount of listening but I often don’t listen with intent to absorb and process non-therapy information. I may have other things on my mind like what another patient is doing in the gym or thinking about documentation or planning treatments or preparing for meetings, etc. The list goes on and I know you feel that too. But, if time allows, I think one way to redeem our time is to really listen and process what patients are telling us. There is usually a lot more than meets the eye and patients are often surprisingly honest if given the opportunity. This is a great way to minister to a patient.
“Know this, my beloved brother: Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…” James 1:19
Speak a Word of Encouragement to Your Patients. We live in a time of seemingly endless negativity, outrage, and frustration. These sentiments are often expressed generally or specifically. Rarely do we hear many words of genuine encouragement. We may speak encouragement to a patient in regards to the rehab progress but I am talking about encouragement that impacts an individual’s character. I think one way we can redeem our time with patients is to give them encouraging words. Look for and listen for opportunities to speak a kind word to a patient and watch the demeanor and attitude change.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you have been doing.” 1 Thess. 5:11
Pray for Your Patients. This is a habit that I continue to try and build. We know as we listen to our patients, hard situations, worries, fears, anxieties, concerns, frustrations are all going to surface. What a great opportunity for us to show God’s love by interceding for them. This may take the form of writing the prayer request down and praying later or stepping aside and praying for the patient right then if the patient grants permission. I try to perform the latter just because I know in the busyness of the clinic and daily life I may not remember to actually pray for the patient. Oswald Chambers poignantly said, “Don’t just say you will pray about thing; pray about it.” I think most of the time patients are incredibly grateful and appreciative.
“I urge that supplication, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people…This is good and is pleasing in the sight of God or Savior...” 1 Tim. 2:1, 3
Serve Your Patients. This is probably the most time consuming and difficult idea to redeem your time with patients but likely one of the most impactful. As we listen, encourage, and pray for individuals we interact with, God will show us ways in which we can serve them. I have had opportunities to not only pray with patients as a way to serve them, but also anything ranging from providing a meal, volunteering time for yard maintenance, providing a small birthday gift, or showing up at an event for support. There are probably infinite number of ways to serve your patients in and out of the clinic. We just have to be creative.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
These are four general ideas to help us walk and work as wise and not unwise utilizing all the time that God grants us with our patients. Look for these opportunities this week. How else do you redeem your time with your patients? I would love to hear from you!
"Hurry, time is running out!" "I don't have the time." "Time marches on." "Time is just flying by!" There are so many expressions that we have in our language to try and capture the reality that our time is limited and constantly, perpetually converting the future into the past. And while there are obviously huge implications when we think about the time each one of us has living on earth, there are also huge implications for a faithful physical therapist to consider.
I have now been a physical therapist for 8 years. That time has passed in the blink of an eye because I have examined and treated hundreds upon hundreds of patients. While I have seen all these people in my clinic, the reality is not only have I treated them, but that I’ve also spent time with them. I spend countless hours of time with patients. You spend countless hours of time with patients. And it all adds up.
I figured out one time that I spend on average about 7 hours with a patient. 7 hours! Some of you may spend even more time with your patients depending on the setting you work in and some of you may spend less time on average because of your specialty. But the common denominator is we spend significant time with one person. What would you do if you knew you were going to be spending hours with one person? Would you have the same conversation over and over again? Would you have hours in silence? Would you seek to learn about that individual?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
This verse speaks to me and I hope it speaks to you. What if we replaced the word “walk” with “work” or “care for patients.” The call here, then, is the time we spend doing anything really matters in a broken, hurting world especially when it comes to our vocation. We need to use our time wisely in all facets of life and we need to use our time wisely with our patients.
I would encourage you to reflect on this passage and the amount of time you spend with your patients. Ask yourself introspectively if you are using the time God gives you with patients wisely or unwisely. If we are using that time wisely, we will have more meaningful conversations with our patients during the 7 hour rehab adventure and hopefully include applicable faith gems that point to our hope in Christ in a world where the days are evil.
It’s not too late to begin! Pray that God would show you how to use your time wisely. And also stay tuned for the next blog which will give you some practical ideas how to use your time wisely.