Before COVID-19, Dr. Jami McKinney loved traveling to Florida with family members 4-5 times a year to tag sharks for science. “My brother got me ‘hooked’ on fishing – it’s an adrenaline rush!” she laughs.
Like so many of her colleagues and fellow PAs, COVID has altered daily life for her. “We have been on the front lines of COVID from day one, admitting patients from the ER, admitting patients to the ICU. It has been exceptionally interesting leading a group during this crisis.”
In January, Dr. McKinney was promoted to manager of the APP group at her hospital in Texas, the largest in the area. She had been promoted to Lead APP just two years after completing PA school in 2015. “It’s great to see that our hospital leadership has an understanding of what we do and recognizes that we deserve to have a voice and a seat at the table.”
She adds, “I am so thankful for the Disaster Medicine course – I was able to lead my team using the concepts we learned during the course — all of it directly applicable to our situation within the pandemic.” In particular, she noted how the in-depth study of organization and structure, and the process of coming up with creative solutions during crises has helped her navigate the pandemic. “COVID has been trying, and it has also been a leadership opportunity, and a learning experience for our group. “
Dr. McKinney and her team are currently piloting a new program with care coordinators to streamline the discharge process so that patients leave the hospital efficiently when they are ready and able. “We have seen a surge of COVID patients in the last few weeks, and lots of APPs are on standby. Nobody knows what is going to happen, but we’re doing our best to be ready,” she says.
She enjoys the innate diversity of her job as a hospitalist PA, “We see different types of patients each day. We have a culture that is very collaborative, and the physicians are our colleagues.” Dr. McKinney adds that after the APPs have experience in the hospital setting, they are able to independently do their own rounds and care for their patients with a high degree of autonomy. “Patient care is first and foremost here, and we enjoy very collaborative relationships with our physicians,” she says.
Dr. McKinney reflects on her career to this point: “the versatility of the profession is what attracted me. PA school is very intense but allows for the flexibility to treat a lot of different types of patients and practice in different areas of medicine.”