Physiotherapy has been in Malaysia since after our Merdeka yet we still lack the respect that we deserve. We don't even have our own council which should voice our rights. I personally attribute this to various factors:
1. Majority of the physiotherapists in Malaysia currently are only diploma holders. I'm not saying diploma holders are of low quality because I've met many great and amazing physiotherapists (Puan Ruhaya Hussien, Madam Sarkuna and many others) who are just diploma holders yet they upgrade themselves through attending various courses. However, we should be at par with other profession which produces many degree holders. Doctors are at minimal having a degree and we should follow in that step. Countries like Australia and the UK are not even focusing on producing degree holders but to produce more post-graduates of physiotherapy. Having post-graduate qualifications allow us to specialise in the various disciplines of physiotherapy and not just be a general practitioner.
2. In countries like Australia and India, the physiotherapists are considered extended scope practitioners where they don't need a doctor's referral to attend to patients. They may even refer the patients for X-ray without having to go through doctors. To achieve this, we must improve the curriculum of studying. For example, my batch of degree from UiTM did not get to learn on interpreting radiographic images, pharmacology or various clinical conditions. However my juniors are lucky to have those taught to them. These are the subjects that should be taught in all colleges and universities to allow physiotherapists to also be the first-hand practitioners for patients. This would ease the job of doctors to not have to attend to too many patients, also would improve the integrity of the physiotherapy profession.
3. How we carry ourselves reflect alot on the profession. We physiotherapists are the masters in posture, biomechanics and gait (walking pattern). Yet it is very disappointing to see the postures of physiotherapists themselves. We teach patients to have and maintain good posture yet many of us don't even comply to the knowledge and skills that we have. Notice how a medical specialist stands and walks? Notice how bosses of multimillion companies talk? We should follow those demeanour. We should be able to talk in a more professional, confident and charismatic way yet gentle and still be soft spoken. English is a language that all of us must be able to communicate with fluently.
4. Performing assessments and provision of interventions should be to the maximal capacity possible within the time frame of meeting the patients. I have to admit, sometimes I get disappointed by how a physiotherapist assess and treat a patient. I would notice that a more meticulous assessment and treatment could be performed. Determination of goals should be done accurately and to be able to differentiate between an important goal and an urgent goal is vital.
Here's my cry to the physiotherapists of Malaysia, don't be satisfied with just a diploma or a degree, get higher qualifications. We should all carry ourselves better through the way we talk, walk and our general posture. Also we should give patients the best of assessments and treatments as we should always target for the patient to cure. This would prove to other health personnel as well as fellow citizens that physiotherapy do work.
In many occasions we have been disrespected, undermined and underestimated. It is not something that we can demand but something that we should earn. This need to change and it should happen now.