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In this edition of Travel Talk, our SLP mentor Melissa Jones talks about purpose, leadership, and truly serving your patients. You can read more about Melissa through her awesome blog: Keeping Up With The Joneses. If you’re interested in getting to know our other travel mentors, check them out here. Enjoy!


When you do therapy, what do you believe is your primary purpose? Is it to make productivity, make outcomes, or have your patient complete a set number of tasks? I would argue that the answer is none of the above. I believe that when I do therapy, my primary purpose is to serve my patients. With all the pressure on increased productivity and outcomes, this might seem counter intuitive and impractical but what I have found is that this idea of servant leadership, of approaching therapy with the soul purpose of truly serving your patients, will increase your effectiveness as a clinician.


When I was in high school, I took a leadership class called PALs. One of the readings we did for this class was a book entitled The Servant by James C. Hunter. The essential idea in the book is that there are two kinds of leadership: leadership by power and leadership by authority. Leading with power means that people do what you ask because you have the power to make them; leading with authority means that people do what you ask out of respect and love. I’m sure everyone can think of a boss that they have had who lead in both those ways. What makes a leader who has authority so effective is that they are willing to serve the people working for them. I highly recommend the book, seriously, go read it. It will change your life.


If you approach each patient like they are another item on your to-do list, an inconvenience, or a necessary evil to get to that paycheck, it does not matter if you are the best clinician in the world, you will not be as effective as you could be. When your patients trust you and know that you care about them, they are more willing to do what you ask and more likely to believe in your rationale and plan for therapy. On the days where they don’t feel well or are tired and not wanting to do therapy, they are more willing to push through and finish out the day. They might not enjoy every activity you ask them to do, but they will do it because they know you care about them and trust your judgment. People will work a lot harder for you when they know you care about them.


The truth is you shouldn’t feel like your patients should appreciate working with you, instead you should feel blessed to work with your patients. People can tell when you are truly listening to them; people can tell if you care about them as an individual or just care about them because they are on your therapy schedule that day. Listen to your patients, care about them, help them whenever you can. Not only will you notice the change in your patients, but also in your outcomes, and maybe even in yourself.


 The Paradoxical Commandments

by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.