CHICAGO, IL – Physician assistant (PA) Susan Jonesby was doing morning discharge planning for her employer Galen-Vaselius Orthopaedics when tragedy of unimaginable proportions ruined her day. While entering the room of her 86-year-old patient who was recovering from hip fracture repair the day before, she was called a nurse.
Frozen in place, her heart hiccoughed. Had she not clearly introduced herself as “Susan?” Catecholamines raced through her brain as she reeled with the abject horror of being mistaken for the lowest caste of health care drone. If only she had been mistaken for a janitor like her friend Evelyn! At least janitors got weekends and holidays. Susan drew up a large push dose of potassium in her head.
Mustering all her cool practiced from dozens of mock codes, she tried to explain that she was in fact a physician assistant and not a nurse, to which the patient replied, “WHAT? I LOST MY HEARING AIDS, CAN YOU HELP ME FIND THEM?”
A family member at bedside then jumped in, “MOM, THIS IS THE DOCTOR, SHE CAN HELP YOU GET NEW ONES!”
Finally in familiar territory, Jonesby smoothly responded, “I’m not your doctor but I’m very similar. It’s an easy mistake to make since we all wear white coats and scrubs. I’ll have your nurse come in to look for them, is there anything else you need?”