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President's Message

Why We Must Look at the Bigger Picture

Gorman, Sharon L. PT, DPTSc, GCS, FNAP

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Journal of Acute Care Physical Therapy: April 2015 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - p 1
doi: 10.1097/01.JAT.0000463082.29176.22
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This year at the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), I was invigorated. I am always invigorated at CSM, but this year seemed somehow special. At first I thought it was the whirlwind of becoming the President of the Acute Care Section, but with a little time to reflect that honor only played a small part. I think that what really invigorated me was the unstated message at all of the Section's programming this year to continue to look past what is in front of me to see the bigger picture.

As I look over the scribbled notes I took during educational sessions, I keep coming back to how the presenters, my acute care peers, forced me to step back with a critical eye. Chris Perme's inspirational Acute Care Lecture showed how the path to excellence is rarely a straight line. Her emphasis on being challenged repeatedly by fellow health care professionals, colleagues, and even patients set her on the path to clinical excellence and challenged her to engage in research, education, and publication. She challenged acute care therapists, asking “Do we want to be recognized as noninvasive practitioners with strong clinical reasoning and skills who can significantly influence outcomes for critically ill patients?” A question I hope all of you are answering, as I did, with a resounding, “Yes!” It is important to focus on providing the right intervention at the right time for the right patient, but it is also important that the other health care professionals we work so closely with can recognize what value we bring to the health care team. This reflection culminated with the final session of programming by Amy Pawlik and Sarah Harrison where they recounted 3 difficult critical care cases. They thoughtfully reviewed potential missing pieces in the patients' holistic care, identifying places where recognition of endocrine, nutritional, or other system impairment contributed to the difficult rehabilitation course for the patients. Talk about needing to step back and look at the whole patient, they presented an interesting and educational path that literally did just that.

CSM itself, for the Acute Care Section, deserves being looked at with a fish eye lens. The amount of quality programming has grown so much. We now have 2 full sessions of platform presentations and a full complement of poster presentations being accepted for presentation. Most time slots for educational programming are now double booked with excellent sessions that not only aim to raise the practice expectations in acute care physical therapy, but repeatedly cite world-class peer-reviewed literature specific to our practice setting. In stepping back and looking bigger, I challenge all of you to consider what you can add to this superb conference for 2016. What exciting or interesting case can you present, what new research or quality improvement project can you share? How can you step out of your narrow focus and do something bigger to enhance the CSM experience for 2016?

It can be so easy to narrow our focus. To look just at the test results right in front of us, to just look at the schedule for the day's patients, to just see the multiple problems in the patient we are treating right now. And it is important to narrow our focus and attend to these details. But it can be just as important, and perhaps more so, to remember to step back, look broader, and take in the whole picture. To be an excellent health care provider, we must be willing and able to do this. To change our perspective back and forth between intimately focused to seeing the bigger picture. To stop, maybe even pause, and make sure we have not missed the forest for the trees. To appreciate how big and complex our patients are, thereby giving their complexities the attention they deserve. And to give ourselves the challenge in looking at all that they are. I am hopeful that we, as a community of physical therapists working with dynamic and ever-changing complex patients, will not forget to take that step back and really see the big picture.

Sharon L. Gorman, PT, DPTSc, GCS, FNAP

President, Acute Care Section

© 2015 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.