Saturday, March 14, 2009

The question that stumped me

I was telling dad about an interesting experience that i had had at work and he asked me the strangest question...

"How do the people react to you when you are working with them when you are alot younger than them?"

At first i was stumped i didn't know an intelligent answer and the first thing that came out of my mouth was...

"What do you mean? I work with people and havnt noticed any issues with age"

I have thought about this more and considered why it was that i had never thought age was a problem. Firstly i have only been older than a few patients as an OT over the last year. Thinking back i dont think age changed how i approached them as a person. I approach everyone the same - with respect for their experience

I dont think it matters how old someone is but i believe that you get what you give. If you on in to see a patient and respect them, listen to them and be open and honest - then you'll get that back in return. So age to me doesn't matter, whether 20 or 90, you get what you give (most of the time)

The fact that my dad had asked me this lead me to believe that perhaps he would fell uncomfortable with a younger person working with him, giving them advice or discussing professional things. Hes an ordinary man...maybe people i have worked with have experienced a negative feeling about working with a younger professional. This is probably more common than i realise. I guess everyones unique but i had hoped that i could use my interpersonal skills and therapeutic use of self to allow the patient to feel comfortable and working with me, and gain a working professional relationship.

So how do i make this happen?????
WEll i have already mentioned respect, but also clear and open communication, ethical principles such as autonomy and informed consent.. On a broader level CCP!

This is so important and yet took some digging to get out and i realise just how embeeded these core elements are in "what i do"

The other thing that has popped into my head and is equally important is CONFIDENCE and COMPETENCE

I realise that there are things that i "know" and things that i dont! But i also believe that competence goes hand in hand with confidence. If i had competence in working with a patient about a particular topic or issue or diagnosis or functional issue then only could i have confidence working with the patient! However on the swing side of things - if a new grad presented as confident in doing something - this doesnt necessarily mean that they are "competent"...

Why does confidence and competence matter when working as a young professional???

Lets say i was unsure of how a cognitive impairment was likely to affect a patients safety at home...
There are two things that i imagine i could do..
(1) - Go in and see the patient confidently and say it (not really understanding what you are saying)
(2) - Go in with no confidence saying "im really unsure but i will find out for you"
(3) - Seeking advice and then going in confidently (knowing you are competent) and disucssing it with the patient and educating them ..

One guess what the best thing to do is - but anyway what im trying to explain is that low levels of confidence will negatively affect how the patient feels when working with someone whom is younger - therefore seeking advice, support etc is vitally important to ensure that issues of "age" or competence more in fact do not become an issue!

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