A lot of things have contributed to the ‘shrinkage’ of the world. The most immediate and obvious one would be the rise of the Internet, however there are many significant contributors: transport, communication (non-web based), media, finance and economics, politics, and religion have all, in their own way, helped the people of the world cross borders and create a sense of global awareness, even global community. Yet is the world truly going ‘global’? As an Australian now living in the United States, my experience suggests that we’ve still got a long way to go.
Case in point: health care, specifically my profession, Physical Therapy (Physiotherapy, or PT as it’s affectionately known here). I’ve been working as a PT in the US now for just over a month. Not a whole lot of time, but more than enough to assess the similarities and differences between how PT is done here, and how it’s done back in Australia. What I’ve discovered is that the practice of PT – that is, how you assess, treat, and manage the care of a patient – is EXACTLY THE SAME in the US as it is in Australia. Surprising? Shocking? Perhaps, but nevertheless, it’s true.
Of course, there are some differences in the way PT is delivered to people; for example, medical insurance is quite different here compared to Australia (truthfully, I’m still trying to get my head around how the insurance system here works, so please don’t ask me to explain what the differences are – just know there’s a big difference). However, having now met and worked with a number of PTs here in the States, I know that any patient I’ve ever seen in Australia would get exactly the same care by any US PT as they would by their Australian counterpart, and vice versa.
In fact, I can say the same thing about my New Zealand counterparts as well, having spent time observing PT practices there, and seeing some of their countrymen come to Australia to practice. I would go so far as to say that PT practice is pretty much the same the world over. Take a PT out of one country, put them in another, and the care patients receive will essentially be the same as if a local performed it.
In this respect – at least to my way of thinking of it – PT is a global health discipline. A PT trained anywhere in the world (at least, say, within the 21st Century) should be able to go anywhere else in the world, and still be able to deliver quality PT care.
All sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? When you try to put this into practice, as I have recently done, it doesn’t seem to quite work like that. Each country has its own rules, and regulations, and criteria, and restrictions, and limitations, all seemingly designed to protect those within its borders from those without. Protect from what, exactly? Well, that’s a question for your local consulates and embassies.
To be fair, there are obviously some professions for which it would be all but impossible to simply leave one country and pick up where you left off in another. Law would be a perfect example, considering that the statutes and regulations that make up a country’s laws are so unique to that country (and in many instances, unique to States or regions within that country) that you could not reasonably expect, for instance, an Australian criminal lawyer to come to the US and start practicing criminal law without demonstrating they have a sound understanding of the theory and application of local laws (and please, no ‘kangaroo court’ jokes).
While it’s reasonable to expect that if we haven’t been able to resolve issues like that in over a hundred-thousand years of human history we’re not likely to be able to anytime soon, given that technology, infrastructure, and ideas are only going to shrink the world even further, should we be moving towards a more truly global community? Should we start looking at the ‘sameness’ of our countries, and identify opportunities where the traversal of borders – both figuratively and literally – would present mutual benefits to all involved? Where recognising knowledge, experiences, skill sets, and ideas, and facilitating their transition and incorporation from one place to another, would improve the quality of our societies – of life in general – for everyone?
This is not to say that we should relinquish the things about our societies that are intrinsic, or give us our identity; it is not about trying to make everyone the same. It’s about making the borders that keep us separated a little more ‘permeable’, and understanding the advantage that gives us all.
Surely as a global community, we have more to offer each other than cat memes and video clips?
What do you think? Is the world global? Should it be? What helps/limits our abilities to become global? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.