The son of an English teacher, when deciding what to be when he grew up Harrison Reed, PA-C debated English and writing, publication and journalism as a career alternative to being a Physician Associate. Communicating in written form is something that he found to be both necessary and a great tool to wield in the field of medicine.
Harrison has been clinical editor, associate editor, and acting Editor in Chief at The Journal of the American Academy of PAs (JAAPA). In his most recent venture, Harrison Reed Writing, he aims to help PAs and other healthcare professionals achieve their writing and publication goals.
From thinking of that next article topic, drafting and writing the article and finding a great editor, he’s focusing on the impact that PAs can have through research, writing and publication. Harrison is here to talk about the role we play in the larger society of life, medicine and PA life using writing as a tool.
We also weave a little life advice, encouragement about being a human, a touch of information on turnover and burnout, and a deep dive into how we identify as humans and professionals in this career as PAs. This conversation is a state of the union for the PA profession meets a reminder that we are human beings alongside our roles as healthcare providers. If video is more your speed, you can watch it on YouTube here.
Writing and Research as a PA
There is an incredible dearth of publications by PAs. Relative to our numbers of educators, clinicians and those working in industry, we don’t have enough articles written by PAs.
Harrison shares how to use writing as a tool to amplify your voice, impact your fellow PAs and educate the general public about important health topics and can have an incredible positive impact on the community at large.
Harrison says “The really cool thing about being a healthcare provider is that you have a direct impact on people’s lives but you also have this body of knowledge. In addition to the role you play as a healthcare provider, you have a role in society – that’s a much bigger role. You’re a leader. You have wisdom. You can guide others. You’re a mentor. Writing and publication as a tool is also super important.”
Download Harrison’s Best Tips
Burnout & Turnover in Healthcare Workers
Harrison was recently recognized by the AAPA for his research on PA turnover and healthcare worker wellbeing. The bottom line is that your organization cares about their bottom line. Turnover of healthcare workers is expensive, and that includes you. It’s costly for them to recruit and orient a new you and a better bet for them to retain the you that already works there.
If taking PTO, a sick day when you or one of your kids is sick, or using your CME time to get those last 10 credits you need before your recertification cycle runs out is going to cause your workplace stress, they need to hire more humans. You should be able to go to the bathroom and take care of your basic needs on shift. You should have the ability to unplug and *gasp* leave your laptop at work and not chart on the evenings or weekends.
Harrison’s article “Reasons PAs Leave Their Jobs” can be found in JAAPA here.
Professional & Personal Identity as PAs
When Harrison introduced himself at the very beginning of the podcast he said “First and foremost I’m a Critical Care PA” and by the end of our discussion he was amending his introduction to be “First and foremost I’m a human who likes running, I’m a son, an uncle, and a brother”.
We identify so strongly with our professional roles as PAs. We worked incredibly hard to obtain the knowledge, the training and the degree to have the distinct privilege of practicing medicine. That is a huge part of our lives but it isn’t who we are. It’s simply what we do professionally.
Harrison and I have both struggled with what to do with ourselves physically, logistically and emotionally when transitioning from one job to another and we realized that’s because being a PA is a huge part of our identity.
Being a whole human being outside of work is important. Having distinct things, people, and passions that you love and what to spend time with is the key to a life of fulfillment and happiness.
If your professional and personal identities is something you are struggling with, know that you are not alone. If you are wishing you had a better quality of life, a job you loved, more time and more money, this is the next post for you.
What Matters Most
It’s incredibly difficult to feel fulfilled and aligned when your core values don’t align with those of your employer. Not sure what your core values are? Find them in this free guide.
Harrison digs deeply enough to say that if your employer is measuring metrics that you don’t find to be safe, helpful, or an effective way to measure productivity, you might be in the wrong role.
The bottom line: life is too short to spend your precious hours working at a job that doesn’t care about you, doesn’t support you as a human being, and will take all that you have to give, leaving you empty and hurting. When you are empty and hurting there’s nothing left for your kids, your spouse, your friends and most importantly… there’s nothing left for you.
That’s no way to live. We have to find a way, as PAs, to show up well at work and that starts with showing up well for ourselves at home. You are a Person first, PA second and it behooves you to remember that and to start prioritizing yourself in this life.