“The first is vision, for without vision there can be no forward movement. The second is faith in the purpose… keen, alive, kindled with enthusiasm. The third is courage to overcome all odds and difficulties.” The response of Mary McMillan, First APTA president, to the question, “What does it take to be a successful innovator?”
“I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” Albert Schweitzer, MD, Nobel Laureate
Have you ever wondered what it takes to remain passionate and invested throughout the course of a career? The above quotations highlight two interconnected attributes, both of which are supported by effective communication. The first is engagement, the focused alignment of personal resources with a meaningful purpose outside of oneself. The second is engaged professionalism, the application of values and knowledge in the service of work that benefits society. This chapter explores the concepts of engagement and engaged professionalism from a life-work perspective while emphasizing communication skills, which enhance interactions in both realms.
Take This Job and Love It: The Essence of Engaged Professionalism
As you consider your future career as a physical therapist (PT), what excites you the most? What do you hope to accomplish? What contributions do you hope to make? Although these questions may be difficult to address while you are in the thick of your physical therapy studies, you are likely to find that they can be easily answered by physical therapists who continue to find meaning in their work. Most likely, these therapists are making positive contributions at many levels, which affect their patients, their coworkers, and their professional colleagues. These therapists embody a quality called engaged professionalism. Like you, they may have entered the profession with the worthy goal of helping others. In addition, as their professional skills developed, they probably found new opportunities to apply these in exciting and creative ways. Such therapists are likely to tell you that even after decades of practice, that they have never stopped learning. Luckily for us, many of these therapists are actively practicing in our midst. The following section describes such an individual.
A Compelling Example of Engaged Professionalism
Each year, the APTA Student Assembly names a physical therapist “living legend” who is invited to speak at the National Student Conclave. These individuals (who include Florence Kendall and Shirley Sahrmann) have all made professional contributions that have shaped our profession in groundbreaking ways. The living legends series is an inspiring opportunity for future physical therapists to interact with some of the most brilliant innovators of our profession.