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Massage Today
May, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 05

I Stand Corrected... I Think!

By Perry Isenberg

In my last column, I sent out a plea to the industry to stop referring to customers as clients and to please refer to them as patients. My rationale for this plea was that you're health professionals, not talent agents.

I received an e-mail from Randall Sexton, RN, MSN, MBA, ABT, and CP, that reads as follows:

"[With regards to] calling people 'patients' vs.'clients.' The word 'patients' implies passive recipients of services, as in the old, typical doctor-patient relationship; 'clients' implies people who are active and collaborate with health care practitioners in their treatment.

This is of so much importance now that we are mandated to go over clients' plans of care with them and get their active involvement in helping them get healthier."

We all know that today's consumers and patients are substantially different than previous generations. For the most part, we are all more involved in our health and are more apt to question and even challenge recommended remedies.

Considering I'm more involved with my health and family doctor than my father was with his, does this mean I'm my doctor's client? I don't know, but I do take comfort in knowing I'm his patient. However, I'm not sure if I want to be his client.

I'm sure this is small stuff, but I believe it is important that the massage profession clearly identifies whom they serve -- patients or clients. Maybe it's not up to the profession; maybe it should be up to the users of your services to decide if they are clients or patients. Because I turn to massage for its measurable therapeutic value, I prefer to be a patient.

I recently became aware that a new generation of physical therapists will be referred to as Doctors of Physical Therapy, perhaps even as Doctors of Health Science. This move would appear to elevate the perceived value of physical therapy from a therapist/client encounter to that of a doctor/patient.

This is all very confusing to me. I would love some feedback from both individual therapists and associations. Until next month, be healthy, be good, stay focused and motivated.

Click here for previous articles by Perry Isenberg.


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