December 8, 2023

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

By April Burke, PA-C 

There are some moments in my career I will never forget. 

The first time I was involved in a code. The patient became unresponsive, and I saw the panic in their family members as we tried furiously to save the patient’s life. 

The first time I had a patient angrily demand an alternate treatment plan. I explained the medical rationale for their current treatment plan calmly, but every bone in my body was fearful the encounter would escalate to violence. 

The first time I had to call a family member to let them know their loved one had passed away. 

The first time I had a confrontation with another healthcare provider after advocating for what I thought was best for my patient. 

These moments are just some examples of the ways we as clinicians step out of our comfort zones every day to answer the call of providing excellent care to our patients. 

You’ll notice the examples I shared are all firsts. At some point — without even realizing it — these firsts went from stressful situations to challenging learning experiences I now embrace. My focus shifted from needing to prepare to approach a new situation to having the confidence to make the best decision with the information in front of me. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been privileged to teach, train, and mentor other APPs at all stages of their careers. One of my favorite things has been watching them grow confident in their skills and knowledge. It’s a progression we all go through. Watching it happen before my eyes and knowing I played a role in it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced. 

All of this is not to say I don’t still have my moments. Every role I’ve taken on over the past 15 years has come with its own set of firsts. It took a while for me to be comfortable with speaking in front of an audience or turning my computer off on a Friday afternoon with a pending to-do list. The important thing is that I continue to embrace opportunities to grow and learn whenever possible. Not only does it help me develop, but it also provides me with more tools to help others. So, embrace those uncomfortable situations. You never know what they’ll teach you.

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