Archive | April, 2015

Curing (Compassion) Fatigue – PAs Connect

29 Apr

There is a very serious epidemic out there right now among healthcare providers.  Compassion fatigue takes the joy out of what we do.  Here is my latest PAs Connect article.  Please share if you care 🙂

Curing (Compassion) Fatigue – PAs Connect.


Fresh Faced Students

19 Apr

This is how old the college students looked to me!

I had the pleasure of talking to a pre-pa student group at the University of Minnesota Duluth.  On Thursday I picked up my girls from the bus stop and we had an impromptu road trip to the north shore.  My mom joined us and we made an event out of it.  We arrived at the hotel that had a ridiculous indoor water park and I left them to meet with the pre pa group.  I had a couple of observations about these college students.

First of all, they must have been uber smart because there was not a single one that looked over the age of twelve. They had bright eyes, and wore their backpacks correctly with straps on both shoulders.  The group consisted of mostly women, and they were eager!  One of them was going to graduate from college and then head directly into a PA program.  Others are only freshmen, already with a passion for medicine and the PA profession.

I talked a while about my journey to becoming a PA, my career, and briefly about my coaching business.  The thing they wanted to hear about the most?  Patient encounters.  The stories from the ER captivated them and they wanted more.  Storytelling is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I have a captive audience.  These students reminded me of my own drive that got me into PA school and my love of patient care.

I also felt a little anxious on their behalf.  What if they don’t get into school?  What if the academics prove to be too hard?  What if they are too young to know that this is the career choice that is best for them?  I took two years off after college to explore some of those questions and I knew the PA profession was right for me.  Sometimes I feel that PA programs are filling with younger and younger students that have the academic aptitude, but not the life experience that can be beneficial for a career in health care.

Here is a piece of advice from this old lady of 33 years.  If you are sure that you want a career as a Physician Assistant, go for it!  When you know, you know!  But if there is hesitancy, a small voice that says, “I’m not sure”, that’s OK.  It is wise to listen to that voice and slow down.  There is time to think, to experience life, to travel, to take more classes, before you make a decision that will affect your life immensely.  Going to grad school is big!  It is a significant financial and time commitment.  And the beautiful thing about PA school is that it will be there next year, and having some of those life experiences will look good on an application.  More importantly, those life experiences will shape you into a more mature and wiser person.

I finished with the pre-PA group and headed to the hotel.  The waterslides were wicked fun and I had a moment of being very thankful.   Thankful for my family, and thankful that I have a career that allows me to bring my kids for a fun overnight.  And I am thankful for the bright young minds that are going to be the future of the PA profession.

A recent article I wrote for pas connect!

13 Apr

Nurses-Not Just Eye Candy!

9 Apr

We all know the old stereotypes.  Beautiful women nurses walking around with their perfectly coiffed hair and pressed uniforms.  They bat their eyelashes and say things like, “yes, doctor, right away!”.  In my experience, this stereotype has some validity.

Now, before you get all hot and bothered, let me tell you what I notice in the ER. There are some seriously good looking people running around!  But that is where the stereotype falls apart. First of all, there are awesome men and women nurses.  Secondly, they are bright and intelligent people that make a large impact on patient care. The old idea of nurses as just following orders is archaic and kind of insulting.

Recently, I polled a group of nurses to see what they felt were the biggest issues when it came to working with PAs. OK, I actually talked to a bunch of my nursing friends on Facebook, but I think the outcomes are the same.  There were very familiar themes that seemed to come up over and over.  Here is what I learned from this wonderfully open dialogue.

1. Let’s acknowledge the fact that nurses are educated professionals. They have been around the proverbial block and know a thing or two about healthcare.  When you are going in to evaluate a patient, a nurse’s perspective about the clinical situation is invaluable. Is this patient on the edge of a major catastrophe or are they malingering?  Are there underlying psychosocial issues?  A nurse’s clinical gestalt may save you from making a major mistake or going on a wild goose chase.  Get their input!

2. Communication is the cornerstone of good patient care.  Apparently, we can do a better job as providers.  It’s the small things that count.  When nurses get orders over the computer that are completely ridiculous, they get irritated.  An example that was given was a common order I’ve used- “feed patient”.  This would take five seconds to actually communicate in person.  Some nurses view this as demeaning.  Like we are too important to take the time to talk about patient care.  I know that when things get hectic these electronic orders are necessary.  But don’t make a habit of it.

3. When a nurse questions a plan of care or treatment for a patient, don’t view this as a personal attack.  Sometimes we get defensive, when in fact, the nurse is looking to better understand why we chose certain tests or therapies.  They want to be in on the plan so that we can be a united team.  It can be awkward if a patient has a question and the nurse is completely in the dark. Nurses also are looking to further their clinical knowledge and asking questions is a way of showing interest.  Don’t blow them off.

4.  Don’t talk down to nurses, or anyone for that matter! Saying things like “I went to way too much school to deal with that” is hurtful and really puts down the important roles that other people have in healthcare.

5.  Clean up after yourselves. Leaving your gloves and tongue depressors strewn on the floor is gross. Nurses were not hired to be your mummy and clean up your messes.

I know there are more ways to improve communication and relationships between healthcare professionals, but I think these are good tips!  Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system and we need to treat them with respect. They are so much more than a pretty face 🙂

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