I’ll admit it. This is a pet peeve of mine. When I walk into a wellness center or wellness practitioner’s office and I’m met with a coughing, sniffling, sneezing, stuffy-headed, nose-blowing provider I’m put off. A lot.
I can’t help but ask myself, “how is this obviously sick person going to help me either maintain or regain my health?” My answer is always a swift and emphatic, “They’re not.” There is no way in hell that being shut up in a small room with a sick person is going to do anything positive for my health.
The odds of catching a contagious disease like a cold or the flu increases with both the proximity to the sick person as well as the amount of time spent with them. So… shut me in a small room for an hour with a sick massage therapist (for instance) who’s going to be touching me for an entire hour and my chance of getting sick skyrockets. *Cough*
I’ll pass on the germ buffet, but thanks anyway. I’ll bet you’re not interested in catching the latest crud, either.
I might piss off a few providers by saying this, but it is a HUGE ethics violation to work on clients when we’re sick. The first rule for wellness providers is: Do No Harm. A provider who risks a client’s health by working when they’re sick violates this fundamental principal. In fact, it’s written into the code of ethics for Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) as well as the code of ethics for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). While neither of them strictly forbids working when sick, here is what they do say [emphasis/italics mine]:
I’ve been in the wellness field now for over a dozen years and I hear 3 reasons cited time and again for why providers work while their sick:
Bosses will continue to require their employees to work while they’re sick until it negatively affects their bottom line. Individual practitioners will continue to work on clients when they’re sick as long as their clients let them.
If you don’t want an unwell practitioner working on you, the best thing you can do is to refuse to be seen. Simply ask to reschedule your appointment to a time in the future when the practitioner is feeling better, and make sure you’re clear that the reason you won’t be seen is that you don’t want a sick provider working on you. I know that this won’t be easy, especially if you’re in pain or you were really looking forward to your appointment. Ultimately, however, it’s your choice.
If you’ve ever been greeted at your appointment by a wellness provider who was obviously sick, what did you do? Let me know in the comments, below.