“Patients need to know how much you care before they care how much you know”

As a student, I can remember the days of spending each and every waking minute forcing as much textbook and clinical information into my brain as possible. Yes, there were days when I literally thought my head may just explode. Thankfully, it didn’t and I survived the grind that is PT school.  As I thought about clinical advice and a relevant topic for discussion for PT students, I kept returning to what I feel like “matters most.”  I believe that it is so much more than MMTs, gait patterns, or what exercise should be prescribed next.

Healthcare is a rapidly changing environment but one thing that should not change is our external focus, our WHY, our reason for doing what it is that we do…our patients.  In a great read titled If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently, author Fred Lee notes, “Patients judge their experience by the way they are treated as a person, not by the way they are treated for their disease.” This is just another way of saying patients need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.

It is very easy sometimes in life to let our focus turn internally. As I often say, “life happens,” and it always will. One of my mentors once told me, “Allen, they don’t care if your house burned down last night, they are there with their own set of problems.” While this is very pointed and direct advice indeed, it helps me to remember to always leave my own “life” at the door to create a positive environment to encourage and lift up the patients in our clinic. So, try to turn your focus externally, remember your WHY that got you into this great profession, and be intentional in developing relationships with those around you.

In closing, don’t be afraid to show you care, your patients will remember that most and you will be happier and more successful in your career…and life!


Allen Pace, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist with Performance Physical Therapy in McDonough, GA. He has served as a district director and board liaison on the Executive Committee of PTAG and encourages anyone interested in serving the profession to become involved with PTAG. “I am very optimistic and excited about the future of physical therapy and the next generation of physical therapist that will lead the way!”

*A special thank you to Ray Lynch who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to contribute to the SSIG blog, as well as for his noted engagement and hard work on the behalf of our profession and PTAG SSIG.