Daniel Meehan PA-R

Emergency Medicine, Coleraine, Northern Ireland

I have been working in my usual jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, splitting my time between the Emergency Department and teaching PA students online at Ulster University.

When I work in the mergency Department my time is spent between the respiratory and the non-respiratory sides of the department. When the outbreak started, my family were naturally worried about the risks involved but I had no hesitation in wanting to continue to do my job alongside my ED colleagues and all the other healthcare staff who keep the place going.

My role involves, assessing the broad range of presentations that come through the door from minor injuries and mental health cases to the chest pains, abdominal pains and sepsis presentations. This also includes looking for suspected COVID-19 cases. Part of that assessment includes:

  •  obtaining a history
  • performing the relevant physical exam,
  • formulating differentials,
  • initiating management plans and making decisions about management and,
  • admitting and discharging patients in discussion with senior doctors within the department.

What has been most worrying during this time is the reduction in the attendances for serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks and sepsis. I really would encourage anyone to attend their local A&E with any significant problems so that they can be treated and managed promptly.

Personally, the biggest challenge has been the wearing of FFP3 masks and other protective equipment for prolonged periods. It can get very warm and you can become dehydrated quickly. Communication with patients and colleagues can also be difficult when wearing the PPE but staff are adapting and ensuring that they are doing all they can for the patients they are looking after whilst supporting each other.

More than ever, I am proud to be a Physician Associate and be working alongside great people (personally and professionally). I am also immensely proud of the Physician Associates who are newly qualified entering the workforce at this difficult time and the students who have, without hesitation, taken up other healthcare roles to help the NHS workforce in its hour of need whilst clinical placements have been suspended. I also count myself fortunate to live in a beautiful part of Northern Ireland and getting out for my daily exercise around the north coast has also been great for clearing my mind and relaxing during these stressful times.