Account of COVID-19 frontline work from a Physician Associate

The discovery and subsequent pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) has entirely transformed the delivery of health and social care around the world.  As a result, frontline hospital facilities are unrecognisable in how they operate from just a few months ago.  As we grapple to understand the virus and co-ordinate efforts to combat COVID-19, our operating procedures are having to change at a rapid pace.  It is the duty of the frontline medical practitioner to adapt to these changes in order to deliver high quality healthcare to our patients. 

Physician Associates are playing a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 across the country.  We have innovated and adapted, often away from our usual working patterns to support the ongoing effort in all factions of care delivery.  Few times in history has a generalist knowledge of medicine been so vital in serving the needs of our nation.

I have been deployed to the newly created Infection Assessment Unit where we see and treat all patients suffering from COVID-19 in the Scottish Highlands.  As a Physician Associate, I am able to triage new patients, assess them and develop a management plan along with the rest of the team.  At a time of unprecedented turnover of medical staff, having a generalist knowledge of medicine, along with a good understanding of local operating procedures, has been invaluable.  Patients suffering from COVID-19 present unique challenges to our workforce who are not immune to this disease and are commonly being struck down by the very illness they are trying to fight.  It is therefore imperative that we remain flexible as redeployment to other frontline areas becomes inevitable.  The volume of cases expected in the coming weeks is unprecedented and the time span this pandemic is expected to endure poses a great threat to our health service.  As we tread along this unbeaten track, it is important that we stick together as a team of clinicians and support each other as best as we can to overcome this significant challenge.

The multidisciplinary team have certainly stepped up and have answered the call to battle. Each and every one of my colleagues is adapting to work in unconventional and unique ways. It speaks incredibly highly of the standard of people who form our NHS that we have become stronger in the face of such adversity. We are confident we will be able to overcome this immense challenge by recognising and valuing the skills we have, working cohesively together and above all; allowing positivity to shine through the darkness.