Reflection allows you to critically think about what you have learnt. Reflective statements show how you intend to implement or integrate new learning into your practice. Conversely you may reflect on why an activity was not useful and has not been incorporated into your practice.
Caution: Please think carefully about the information you are including in your reflective statements. The Physiotherapy Board does not request information about identifiable individuals such as patients or colleagues as such information may constitute a breach of professional standards and ethics. Reflective statements are to be focused on you as a physiotherapist and what you have learnt, rather than the patients or others involved in your learning.
You are advised to exercise sound ethical judgment when deciding which information to include – consider how relevant the information is to the point you are trying to make.
What did you do?
I was transferred to a rural community, inhabited by the Aboriginals and Torres Islanders. My purpose was to offer physiotherapy to people suffering from musculoskeletal disorders.
However, the first difficulty that I faced was language barrier. Most of the residents of the community were Non-English speaking and spoke in dialects of Kriol and Torres Strait code. They were also hesitant to trust me, as I did not belong to their community. I faced difficulty to explain them the physiotherapy interventions that I intended to practice. I also failed to help them understand the benefits of physiotherapy in reducing their musculoskeletal disorders. Thus, I took help from the local Pastor, with a working knowledge of English to communicate with these people.
What did you learn?
I understood that the indigenous people have faced discrimination, and persecution over the years. This resulted in their insecurities and worsened their health conditions (Dockery, 2012). I realized that it is imperative to have a sound understanding of their history, culture, and language for providing holistic care. Thus, it is essential to display respect and understanding for their culture (Durey & Thompson, 2012). Although, it is not possible to know everything about their belief systems and language, a sound comprehension of their means of communication, and the services they are ready to access is required (Biddle & Swee, 2012). They often fail to understand medical terminologies and statistics. I realized that using Aboriginal slangs or mimicking their pattern of talk may be considered insulting. Thus, all clinical information should be presented in a simple way. Using interpreters in most cases and maintaining an approach that would not make the Aboriginals feel discriminated is also imperative to my objective of providing them access to physiotherapy.
How did this activity affirm or influence your physiotherapy practice?
This reflection provided me the opportunity to perceive that in addition to following the principles of physiotherapy, it is of utmost importance to identify the gaps that exist in the process of providing healthcare services to the indigenous communities. Owing to the years of discrimination and injustice, they are highly disadvantaged, and show an increased likelihood of suffering from a range of disabilities than others. This reflection will help my physiotherapy practice, as I will assess their cultural requirements and traditional beliefs before treating them. Indigenous people often prefer culturally appropriate healthcare organizations (Gray et al., 2012). Thus, my focus will be to work more in the rural areas, where there is lack of physiotherapy services.
It helped me increase my skills to meet their cultural needs. Therefore, in my future practice, I intend to volunteer with the rural community groups for increasing their access to physiotherapy. I will work towards patient advocacy and learn appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication skills to interact with the patients in a better way. In addition to demonstrating an authentic respect for their culture and personal bias, I will increase my language capabilities. I intend to avoid usage of jargons while communicating. I will also use models, diagrams and images to explain them all kinds of physiotherapy instructions and concepts. Speaking in gentle tone and ensuring that I will take necessary measures to maintain their confidentiality to avoid any feelings of shame will also help me build a positive relationship with them and will facilitate my practice.
Biddle, N., & Swee, H. (2012). The relationship between wellbeing and Indigenous land, language and culture in Australia. Australian Geographer, 43(3), 215-232.
Dockery, A. M. (2012). Do traditional culture and identity promote the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians? Evidence from the 2008 NATSISS. Survey analysis for Indigenous policy in Australia: Social science perspectives, 281-306.
Durey, A., & Thompson, S. C. (2012). Reducing the health disparities of Indigenous Australians: time to change focus. BMC health services research, 12(1), 151.
Gray, M., Clark, M., Penman, M., Smith, J., Bell, J., Thomas, Y., & Trevan?Hawke, J. (2012). New graduate occupational therapists feelings of preparedness for practice in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. Australian occupational therapy journal, 59(6), 445-455.