Tag Archives: Reality Check

The Ethics of Ebola

18 Oct

file0001786007208 rae scrubs surgeon green white mask glasses

Is anyone else a tinsy bit nervous about the Ebola crisis? The blame game has started, exposed people have been on airplanes and cruise ships. It is likely that Ebola may come very, very close to home. We are getting mixed messages about transmission from the media and the CDC. This is not about any more scary statistics. We are scared enough.

My question to you comes after a discussion I had in the Emergency Room tonight. I was working a shift and the nurses were discussing the lack of education they have on personal protective equipment, or PPE. We began talking about disaster preparedness and what our little ER in inner city minneapolis is prepared to do.

Here is the kicker. I was asked if I was willing to be a part of an ebola response team should it reach our community. A specialized task force to help treat and contain an Ebola crisis if it came to Minneapolis. The answer for me was yes, but I am conflicted.

As healthcare providers we sign up to help people in all circumstances. Sometime at the risk to our own health and well being. Particularly in the ER when we come across volatile patients, antibiotic resistant infections, blood-born illnesses, we have heightened risk compared to many other forms of medicine. We know what we are getting into as PAs. No one said this job was risk-free.

So why is it that Ebola is any different? There are nurses, docs, advanced practice providers and other medical personal that theoretically could opt op of caring for Ebola patients. What are the repercussions of this? What about the hippocratic oath? “I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required”.

There are people dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic healthcare facilities. There is a healthcare crisis as Ebola spreads, and people with treatable illnesses fall to the wayside. We have the privilege living here to have the equipment and knowledge to contain this disease. Is it our duty to help, or can we “opt out”? Is it selfish to avoid being involved? What do you think? Write your comments below.



10 Oct

I have no idea how they found time to do it, but these students made me giggle. They are obviously excited about the PA profession, and why not? Here are my top reasons for loving what I do, and why physician assistants rank in the Top 25 careers for 2014.

1. I get to be a detective everyday to find out what is wrong with people.

2. There are an endless amount of options for what type of practice setting I get involved with.

3. Mad cash, people. OK, so not like the top 1% but I feel that I can provide for my family and get to go on a few vacations too!

4. I heart my coworkers! I work with great nurses, techs, phlebotomists, pharmacists, NPs, MDs. There is mutual respect and we work as a team.

5. When I am done for the day, I go home and don’t think about reimbursement, RVUs, if the hospital is in the red…I’m not running a business, I’m taking care of people.

6. The PA profession is getting noticed and I spend less time explaining what I am to patients.

7. We are part of the answer to a growing healthcare crisis. Affordable, high-quality care.

8. PA schools pick out the cream of the crop, so we end up with a very talented group of people. Very few people just “fall” into this career. We end up with a bunch of passionate providers.

9. There are always new things to learn. New procedures, medications, diagnostic tools. I am always growing.

10. The final reason I love being a PA is that it is a stable career. I do not have any concern that tomorrow there won’t be a job for me. Why did you choose the PA career path? Comment below!

First Rotation

28 Aug

Here is a picture of the end point.  Or I guess the beginning.  Long before you get a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies you have to enter into a grueling didactic year and than an even more grueling rotation year.  Let me back up a little and let you know how I got to Philadelphia University.  It all started when I was rejected by my home town program in Minneapolis, MN.  Augsburg College.  The Mecca of PA programs in the midwest.  I obviously had a safety school….which I did not get accepted into.  So I submitted my very expensive application to Philly U, PU for short.  I flew out for an interview and tah dah! moved to Philly months later.

I have lived internationally multiple times in my late teens and twenties, but nothing prepared me for the culture shock of the East Coast.  I moved into a house with four strangers and off we went.  First of all the house was in Manayunk, what kinda name is that?  Hot, steamy, cement everywhere.  Ah, the memories are many from that first year.  I will get back to the didactic year but today I am going back to my first rotation…

So there I was.  My short, snow white, pa student coat.  My frumpy “professional” clothing.  My “I’m gonna change the entire healthcare system” attitude.  I walked into an inner city primary care office and tentatively knocked on the open door of my attending’s office.

“Who the fuck are you?” was the first question out of his mouth.  I stood there and awkwardly tried to explain that this was the first day of my first rotation.  That was a long twelve weeks.  This doctor I worked with called himself white chocolate.  He was a Caucasian who did work with a primarily african-american patient population.  And it was true that his patients adored him.  But the number of off color, rude, and demeaning comments that came out of his mouth was astounding.  Although going to that office every day was painful, I learned a lot about how to adjust your practice style to reach different cohorts.  I also learned to let some things roll off my back.  There were lots of moments where I felt belittled, but I kept going and I was able to learn a different kind of compassion.  Maybe my conservative, reserved, swedish style would not work with many, no most, of the patients we PAs are in the business to reach.    So hang in there during those tough moments.  Take a second to look at the world from a different point of view.  Try not to shut down when you don’t understand the whole situation.

%d bloggers like this: