Graham Burdett is a Certified Physician Assistant at Avenues Specialty Clinic and LDS Hospital in general surgery. He was asked to temporarily leave his surgical team to deploy to Primary Children’s Hospital with the pediatric general surgery and trauma teams in support of the COVID-19 response efforts.
My personal experience with COVID-19 has been an emotional rollercoaster. One day is great, filling me with confidence and hope, while the next may not be as good, leaving me feeling grim over the rising numbers and spread. As a provider, I naturally want opportunities to help those in need. However, being in a surgical specialty where our patient load was cut dramatically due to nonurgent procedures being postponed, I became uneasy. I was increasingly concerned about my role and I learned about Intermountain’s plan to redeploy caregivers to other areas, and this provided the opportunity to help and keep me working that I was looking for.
At first, I was naturally apprehensive to work in a new role but I was excited to be needed again and decided to embrace the experience. As it became more of a reality, I started getting cold feet and had second thoughts over whether I really wanted to do it. I have been in my current job for nearly nine years now, and I’m comfortable with my role, ability, and autonomy as a physician assistant in general surgery at LDS Hospital. I know the staff, dynamics, and processes very well. Was I ready to throw myself into such an unfamiliar setting all over again?
Any change is uncomfortable, but this situation seemed analogous to any training rotation in the medical field. I was concerned about being just another student or number—not knowing the formalities or protocols of the group, feeling left out from the inside jokes of the staff, being asked to do grunt work, prodded about the pathophysiology of a given disease, and so forth. I have been in my career for more than 13 years and most certainly did not want to expose myself to that. Still I pressed forward, knowing that these are unprecedented times, and there was an actual need for me somewhere. I guarded myself, expecting there would be moments of vulnerability, unfamiliarity, and most likely embarrassment. I’ve learned with time, that one can have a better experience by facing the challenge head on, by not being afraid to make mistakes, and admitting to needing help along the way.
As it turns out, my fears were largely misplaced. Since starting my redeployment at Primary Children’s Hospital, I can confidently say that it has been a great experience! From the beginning, I’ve experienced more support from my new team than I had expected. The initial steps to approve my redeployment—setting up my badge and iCentra (electronic medical record) access—were much more seamless than I had anticipated. Receiving clear direction and communication, even before I started my first rotation, I have successfully integrated myself as a part of the team from the first day.
The group at Primary Children’s has been welcoming and inviting. They have been so supportive in providing the necessary orientation and tools to help me get up and going. They have also allowed me to be as autonomous as I want, being an efficient provider using my medical skillsets. Contrary to what I had anticipated, I don’t feel inept. I feel valued, knowing I’m providing meaningful contribution.
It hasn’t been just the small group I’m working with at Primary Children’s who has been so welcoming. As I introduce myself to other services—the emergency department, GI, nutrition services, social workers, and nursing staff—they too have been welcoming, and have been more than patient in collaborating with me on the needed treatment for children at the hospital.
It’s also been interesting to see how things run in a different part of Intermountain, and to learn from it. As a clinician, I’m grateful for the opportunity to expand my medical learning and to be a part of a group where I can still use my skillset in battling this COVID-19 pandemic together. And lastly, as an Intermountain caregiver, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to continue my full-time role and be able to provide for my family during such unpredictable times.
I’m proud to be a caregiver of Intermountain Healthcare, where I can sincerely say I feel they have an interest in maintaining my job security and providing ways to utilize my knowledge and skills in other areas. This is a great organization to work for, mostly because of the sincere efforts and desires of its people. We are what makes Intermountain Healthcare great.