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How to cope when things don't go as planned


Now I love a plan, I am one who is quite comfortable with a routine and likes to know where I am and what's going on. So, it is perhaps ironic that I chose a profession that, typically, is subject to unexpected outcomes. Further to that, I'm also self-employed, which is not without it's challenges! (If any of you have read my Blog Post "My first year as an Osteopath" you'll have found out all about this)

We as Osteopaths, spend 4 years studying the basics of anatomy, technique, patient handling, research... buying textbooks like any student to better get to grips with everything we're expected to know for exams. Then we get to the real world and spend the rest our professional lives developing our understanding of people, the human body and constantly reminding ourselves that there's still so much to learn.

I've only been doing this for just over a year and just as I get moments of clarity thinking "yes, I'm getting the hang of this!"...

I then get moments when I think "why?"... "what on earth?"... or even "maybe I should just get a standard job".


From what I understand, this is a pretty common reaction when things do not go quite as expected. These textbooks we all read are, to quote Captain Barbossa of Pirates of the Caribbean...

"More like guidelines, than actual rules".

It is drilled into us about patient management and handling being so important to developing the reputation of the profession and what helps us get return patients. Generally speaking, this is not as much of a problem, making sure patients are aware that it "may get worse before it gets better" and trying to "help them understand their bodies", it is all part of the treatment process.

The difficulty comes when something happens completely unexpectedly. Over the past couples of weeks, I've had patients that reacted to treatment in a negative way. I was shocked, I started to doubt myself, I could not explain why it would have happened, could only speculate.

Having had a very helpful chat with another Osteopath (and further to that I communicated with the patient), I reflected further on these incidents and what what I kept coming back to is that

Everyone is individual!

It would be very arrogant to expect to understand everything that goes on, all the time. This is part of the reason that it is so difficult

to do standardised research about Osteopathy, the human factor is difficult to control or predict. There is a whole research field on singular case studies of patients who reacted in interesting or unusual ways!

So as a message to all past, present and future patients, there is always the possibility that you will react in unexpected ways!

In order to best help you though, Osteopaths and their patients need to work together to find the best way for your individual needs. So if you do have any questions, problems or feedback, communication is key!


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