Meet Sarah: Using the Power of Connection in Caring for Patients Posted on August 22, 2022 Sarah Orlando, PA-C, has had a passion for medicine since the tender age of 10 when she attempted to suture her brother’s finger. She didn’t know it at the time, but she would find her niche as a Physician Assistant in the Emergency Department. Once Sarah discovered the non-stop thrill of working in the ED, she knew she found the place she wanted to grow her career. Why did you decide to become an APP? Since I was a young child, I was interested in medicine. I attempted to suture my brother’s finger when I was just 10 years old! I didn’t know what area of medicine I was most interested in, and the flexibility to change specialties as a PA was appealing to me. Can you walk us through a typical day? In the Emergency Department, there is no such thing as a typical day! That is part of what is so appealing. Shifts can start in the morning or afternoon and last 12+ hours. Sutures, fractures, belly aches, respiratory distress – we see it all! How do you build a connection with your patients? This is probably the most important part of the job, but also can be the trickiest because I often have just a short amount of time with each patient. I try to find something to ask them about. If they have a Pokémon shirt on, I ask what their favorite Pokémon is. Dinosaurs on their socks? My favorite dinosaur is a Parasaurolophus. I ask about summer plans, or favorite sports – try to get them to talk to me about something they are interested in. There’s always something we can connect over! What do you find most rewarding about your work? Of course I like making the children feel better. When a family feels like we’ve figured it out and there is a solution to their child’s problem, it can be so rewarding. But after so many years, now one of my favorite parts of the job is seeing the newer, younger staff develop into amazing, compassionate, skillful providers. People who I taught when they were students or when they first started are doing amazing work – it’s so fulfilling to observe over time. What is your most memorable moment at Connecticut Children’s? Some of the most memorable moments have happened outside of the hospital, with colleagues who have become friends. The experiences we share, both in the Emergency Department and on our own time, will stay with me long after my career has drawn to a close. What role do APPs play here at Connecticut Children’s? APPs play an integral role in the hospital. In the Emergency Department, on average over half of the patients are cared for by an APP. We also follow up on labs, take family phone calls, and communicate with other members of patients’ care teams. What specific challenges have you encountered in this field of work, and how have you managed these challenges? The biggest challenge is balancing home and work commitments. The schedule can be difficult, with evening, weekend and holiday shifts that often overlap with other activities that my husband and four children would like me to be there for. Thankfully I have a supportive family, who realize how important my job is to me. And I believe my children are proud of the work that I do, which is important to me. What advice would you give to current and prospective students who are interested in becoming APPs? Take every opportunity! If there’s an interesting or unusual case that you have an opportunity to be a part of, do it! This is how you will learn the most. Textbooks and lectures are great, but the real learning comes when you’re in the thick of it. How do you feel Connecticut Children’s has supported you career growth? The opportunities to learn in the ED are endless. The attending physicians are always there when needed and are happy to teach. I also have had the opportunity to precept and teach dozens of graduate PA students over the past 10 years, which allowed me to develop a whole new skill set. I’ve recently taken on the role of Lead APP in the ED, a position where I know I will be supported in developing as a manager and continuing to advance the role of my colleagues. How do patients and families inspire you? I recently had a child tell me he recently went on “a car ride for a whole two hours to get to Legoland” without having to stop to use the bathroom. This was clearly a big accomplishment for him – we talked about it for a long time! It was not only adorable, but it was such a good reminder to appreciate the small, everyday victories!