Today’s post covers a topic that has been on my mind a lot inthe past month. Turf wars. Ugh, I just gave a little shudder eventhinking about it!
The turf wars I’m referring to are the escalating interactions involving bickering among healthcare providers. Anyone who is active in social media knows what I’m talking about. In the age of the Internet, everyone is an expert, everyone has an opinion, and most people are bravely ready to let the world know just how smart they are (and how stupid everyone else is). Turf wars are not a new phenomenon. I have been in this field for 20 years now, and even in 1992 when I started my first job as an ATC, there were turf wars in the clinic. Even then, everyone was fighting for their piece of the pie.
The difference is that back in 1992, when you had an opinion, the only folks who had to hear about it were your friends and family. Maybe if you were really passionate about something, you would write a letter to the editor of a publication and wait a month to see it in print (I have a vivid memory of writing a letter to an editor in 1994 on the very topic of turf wars!)
Today, if you disagree with something, you can fire off your opinion in the comments section of a blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or on all three simultaneously! Statements made in the heat of the moment, often without full understanding of what is being said, are posted for the world to see. Forever. If you made a nasty comment in the heat of the moment, you have to live with it floating around the web for the rest of your career.
As I get more involved in social media, I get more and more disheartened by the way some people communicate with each other. What I see most often is disagreement on a very, very small 5% of theory/practice, while many ignore the 95% that we all have in common. This happens not only between providers in different fields; but, among PT’s themselves! I shake my head and ask what people think they are gaining by ripping everyone else to shreds. In my mind, there are so many people out there in pain that there is no scarcity of patients. Think about that for a minute – even if we each set out to treat every person in our neighborhood who is suffering with pain and loss of functional mobility, we would probably have a waiting list for appointments. If we are good at what we do, and we educate the public about why they would benefit from our type of treatment, we will reach plenty of people who are potential patients. Now, I’m not talking about ignoring healthcare professionals who are blatantly providing services outside of their scope of practice (that’s a topic for another day). I’m talking about the natural overlap of services provided by practitioners. The biggest factor driving the outright nastiness of one person against the other is fear. Fear of lack of patients, money, and territory.
I read a great quote this morning on Twitter from @RevRunWisdom. Rev. Run is Joseph Simmons, one of the founding members of Run-DMC. He posted:
“Watch out for unnecessary worry. FEAR=(F)alse (E)vidence (A)ppearing (R)eal”
How often have you seen an argument start over a misunderstanding about what the writer/speaker is saying/doing versus what they really meant? We get all fired up about aperceived threat when there isn’t one in reality. (In some cases, maybe there is a threat; but, in those cases a rational discussion about scope of practice issues can usually lead to resolution).
In many cases, collaborative care is absolutely necessary for the best outcome for the patient. Wouldn’t we be better off if we all could find a way to work together based on our common goal of helping the patient? If we can get out of the FEAR mode, and realize that our healthcare system is largely broken and best put back together through collaborative efforts, we all stand a chance of thriving. Let’s strive to educate the public about what we do really well as PT’s instead of slinging mud at perceived enemies. Let’s start supporting all PT’s who do their best to provide Evidence Informed care, regardless of whether we agree with the specific techniques they use. Let’s all start playing nice in the sandbox.