The following is by PAGH President Jacob Hampton PA-C and was featured in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the Nexus.
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that as an organization, they underestimated the Ebola outbreak which held West Africa in a tense grip during 2014 and which still continues to be a major source of concern.
Although it is always important to reflect on improvements which can lead to a better, more effective response, for those of our members who have practiced medicine in low resource areas, they can understand the difficulty that the WHO as well as the other organizations faced when responding to the crisis.
Whether the challenges are as complex as creating a well-functioning isolation unit or as straightforward as ensuring that the local population is effectively educated about the realities of the virus, no amount of preparation, training or planning can ensure that every single detail will be fully accounted for.
The most that any organization can do is to perform the best that they can at the time and always focus on perpetually improving for the future. In the end, the WHO as well, as the other organizations who devoted their efforts to combating the epidemic, have helped ensure that as severe and tragic as the Ebola epidemic was, that it hasn’t spiraled even further out of control and that it has finally began to recede.
This mantra of serving the greater good but always trying to improve is the same for providers who are involved in global health, especially those who are volunteering abroad for the first time. For many there exists a fear that they haven’t done enough to prepare or a doubt that even with their preparation that they will be able to be successful.
Almost every PA who has already completed a medical mission would quickly say “don’t worry, just do your best and trust in your training!” All of us have received a stringent, comprehensive program which holds clinical acumen in the highest regards.
We are lucky to be part of a profession who has a mission of creating providers who are trained in almost every facet of medicine, ensuring that we have the perfect base on which to build a lifetime of medical knowledge. So if a fear of not being perfect is holding one of our members back from participating in the experience of a lifetime, set that aside and take that first step forward. Even those PAs who have dedicated their lives to relief work or medical work in underserved areas will never get it exactly right every time.
The important part is that we as medical providers are always striving to be our best and helping to ensure the health of every inhabitant of our planet.
Photo Credit: MSNBC News