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It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, but the same is true in the case of providing quality patient care and rehabilitation. Although any one person is capable of providing exceptional care to a patient, I have seen patient outcomes to be drastically improved when the healthcare providers work cohesively as a team. From patient care technicians to nurses to physician assistants, each and every person that participates in a person’s medical care serves a vital role that is complemented by the others they are working alongside. This model of collaborative medicine is something that physician assistants encourage and one of the major reasons I am motivated to follow this career path.

 

Through my work as a patient care technician in the rehabilitation department of St. David’s Medical Center, I have been exposed to a broad spectrum of patients requiring a team approach to their care. From traumatic brain injury to stroke patients, the staff sees a large variance in patient capabilities at admission and end results upon discharge. The goal of rehabilitation is always to decrease the length of patient stay at the hospital, as well as to improve the outcome once the patient is discharged, which is only accomplished through a cohesive rehabilitation unit. I have seen some patients regain the ability to speak when they were previously limited to incoherent syllables and others rediscover the ability to move a limb that had suddenly become foreign and unresponsive secondary to their medical affliction. And yet I know that none of that progress would be possible without the medical community coming together as a team to support the patient in their recovery.

 

One instance in which the community aspect of healthcare was especially vital was with a patient who had been involved in a bad car accident, resulting in debilitating headaches, lowered mental acuity, and impaired safety awareness. Though he was making strides in his recovery, he was still unable to consistently speak and function in a way deemed appropriate for medical release. One day, this patient was consistently and increasingly lethargic, contrary to his behavior in the previous shifts I had been paired with him. I notified his nurse who contacted his physician assistant to ensure that all members of his medical team were kept abreast on this patient’s progress. The physician assistant requested that we observe the patient for the remainder of the day and alert him to any further changes in his condition. Late in the day the patient presented with decorticate posturing secondary to what I believed to be a possible brain bleed causing a midline shift. Quick action was taken on behalf of myself, his nurse, and the rest of the medical team and he was rushed to the attached intensive care unit where they were able to perform a partial craniectomy to relieve the pressure on his brain. The ability of the staff to work as a team and recognize signs and symptoms of a complication from his accident prevented this patient from incurring any further brain damage.

Too often in medicine the presence of complete autonomy can motivate healthcare providers to believe they are an island with no support system. Not only does this lead to a narrowed line of thinking, but it also decreases a healthcare provider’s accountability, which can result in a lowered quality of care. The increasing implementation of physician assistants into the healthcare system, however, is allowing the medical community to come together to increase an exchange of ideas and ultimately improve patient care and outcomes. Though every member of the healthcare team is able to affect a patient’s progress, I find myself searching for the ability to make a larger impact in my patients’ lives, something I believe I can accomplish by becoming a physician assistant.

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