I am a newly qualified PA, and my first job is on a COVID ward. When I began studying two years ago, I did not imagine that I would qualify during a pandemic. However, it’s been great and the team I work with have been extremely welcoming.
I’m lucky enough to be with another new PA and two PAs who have worked in the trust for a year. A typical morning involves doing Junior Reviews of around 40-50 patients, a pretty large ward. The best way for the medical team to see all the patients is to divide and conquer. Once I have my patient list my day usually carries on as follows: firstly, I normally prepare my own notes; check the bloods; check their medications; check any investigations and examine the patient whilst creating my own management plan for each patient. If I’m at all unsure about anything I ask the PA that I’m with – who is honestly so supportive, helpful and always puts the patients first. If we aren’t sure about anything then there’s always senior help on the ward.
The weirdest thing about all this is that people don’t see me as a student anymore, they see me as someone that they can go to for reliable information and it’s going to take some getting used to. As on any ward, there is variation in patients; some are recovering well and some struggle to battle the virus. It is especially scary as some patients may seem stable and on the right path to recovery but a couple of hours later they deteriorate without warning, suddenly requiring high amounts of oxygen and transfer to the intensive care unit.
Over the past week I have been reflecting on the best way to improve patient experience during this unprecedented time. Visiting has been stopped, and so patients often spend long periods of time alone. Additionally, staff wear PPE gowns around patients, which can act as an emotional barrier. To overcome this I have been consciously maintaining an open body language, having a cheerful and empathetic tone of voice and ‘smiling with my eyes’. I also try my best to make each encounter as meaningful and unique as possible for each patient by tailoring it to their personality.
Everyday is a new battle and I would like to say it gets easier but from the looks of things it will be getting worse before getting better. But besides all of this, we all stay. We keep going back every single day. We do this to ensure that everyone has a fighting chance against Covid-19. Because there are patients recovering. These are the patients that inspire us to keep going. The work everyone is doing is commendable and I feel very happy to be part of the NHS during this unprecedented time and encourage the public to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.