Alexandra Godfrey, BSc PT, MS PA-C

Alexandra Godfrey, BSc PT, MS PA-C

I grew up in a small mining town in Northern England where I was known as the “doctor’s daughter.” I lived up to my moniker by giving my sisters’ dolls measles and operating on their teddy bears. After my mother hid the markers, I turned my attention to books — not only my dad’s medical tomes, but also a great number of English literature books. Tucked away in the British literature, I found a quintessentially American writer, Mark Twain, who taught me that if you must eat a frog, you should eat it early. That is, get undesirable tasks done first. These important life lessons (and literary ways) carried over into my medical education; first as a physical therapist in the British National Health Service, where we encouraged ailing patients to be fighters, and later in Detroit, where my physician assistant training was likened to drinking from a fire hydrant and cancer was a battle (to be fought and won). I learned that the words we use to describe our lives, education, and work matter. Really matter. Thus, I have been writing for most of my 20 years in medicine, and have done so in all forms (author, editor, speaker, professor, poet) and published in all manner of journals (Pulse, The Clinical Advisor, Confluence, The Yale Journal, Cell2Soul). I volunteered for the last 6 years on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, editing everything and anything along with writing for the “Art of Medicine”, “Emergency Medicine Notes”, and the “Musings” blog. After completing an emergency medicine fellowship in Michigan, I moved to western North Carolina where I continue to practice emergency medicine and also find space to write.

All posts by Alexandra Godfrey, BSc PT, MS PA-C

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August 3rd, 2017

“As I Lay Dying” — Patient Readmission and Non-Compliance

As I tie the last knot in a neat row of nine sutures, the night nurse calls me to room two. I  drop my hemostats, peel off my gloves, and tell my patient I will be back. Across the hall, I find a girl thrashing around the gurney, chest heaving up and down, hands clasped around her […]


June 20th, 2017

Mending Broken Hearts: A Profile of a Heart Surgeon

“Resilience makes space for feelings. It’s different from depersonalization—something that we see in medicine today. The depersonalized response to tragedy is ‘too bad, so sad, get on with it.’ Depersonalized physicians believe feelings are too risky and painful, so they can’t imagine that feelings exist in others.”—Ross Ungerleider, MD Ross Ungerleider, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Driscoll […]


May 11th, 2017

Leaving Against Medical Advice (AMA): A Clinician’s Dilemma

“You’ll have to sign out against medical advice (AMA) . Your blood pressure is high.” The ER physician stood in the doorway of my room. “What difference would it make now?” I asked. The doctor fiddled with the cuffs of his white coat, then glanced at his cell phone. I picked up my car keys. “High blood pressure is dangerous,” […]


April 10th, 2017

Pulmonary Embolus: Evaluating the Five Ps of PE

Years ago, my physician father said to me; “If something does not make sense, if you struggle to determine the pathology, consider pulmonary embolus (PE).” More recently, an ER physician colleague offered me the following advice: “If you think about PE, test for it.” Of course, an astute clinician places both pieces of wisdom into context. I am not going to look […]


March 1st, 2017

Listening to Bowel Sounds: An Outdated Practice?

Medical programs teach us that listening to bowel sounds is an essential part of the physical examination of the abdomen, especially when the differential includes ileus, small bowel obstruction, diarrhea or constipation. Woe betide the student who fails to auscultate the abdomen of patients with these presentations. Yet firstly there’s little supporting evidence for this maneuver, […]


January 26th, 2017

Can Medical Professionals Ask Patients About Guns?

A student recently asked me if clinicians can talk to patients about gun ownership and safety. Her question triggered my month-long search for data to provide a solid evidence-based response. Alas, my research did not unearth such an answer. But I did find endless writing that discussed this increasingly contentious question in terms of rights, ideology, […]


NP/PA Bloggers

NP/PA Bloggers

Elizabeth Donahue, RN, MSN, NP‑C
Alexandra Godfrey, BSc PT, MS PA‑C
Emily F. Moore, RN, MSN, CPNP‑PC, CCRN
Harrison Reed, PA‑C

Advanced practice clinicians treating patients in a variety of settings and specialties

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