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Physician Assistant Interview
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Physician Assistant Career Interview
John Trimbath has been a physician assistant for 30 years, working in a range of fields from surgical to emergency medicine. He currently works at Euclid Hospital in Ohio.
Physician Assistant Career Path
John started his physician assistant career when the field was just beginning.
“Physician assistance was a brand new profession at the time, he explains. “The career opportunities were abundant. Where you wanted to go with your career was up to you. It was very inviting to go into a career where you are one of the pioneers.
Physician Assistant Experiences
John received his Bachelor s degree in physician assisting from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and he earned his Master s degree in physician assisting from the University of Nebraska.
John spent the first 17 years of his career as a physician assistant working in surgery.
“A lot of people ask my why I didn t want to go on to become a physician, he says. “As a PA, you have a lot of the same responsibilities and duties, but you aren t necessarily tied to that one focus, and you can move on to different things. Physician assistants are trained as generalists.
“It has some drawbacks, though, John continues. “You are a dependent practitioner. You cannot have an independent practice like physicians can have. However, the longer you work as a physician assistant with a group of physicians, the more autonomy they give you, which means that you don t have to work with the physician directly present. Rules vary depending on the state, but here in Ohio, the physician has to be within 1 hour of the PA.
John also gained administrative responsibilities because of the growth of the field. As more people became physician assistants, John had to manage those working at his facility in addition to surgical work.
After those 17 years, John has spent the last 13 years working in emergency medicine. He changed his focus because he wanted to spend more time with his family, and he could alter his schedule to be with his family more.
Physician Assistant Degree Programs
Although many physician assistants who started in the field when it was still new only have a bachelor s degree, almost all new professionals need a master s degree in physician assisting. Those without master s degrees have been practicing for many years.
“Ohio is one of three states that require new physician assistants to have master s degrees, John adds.
Physician Assistant Job Description
John is a physician assistant working in emergency medicine at Euclid Hospital in Ohio, which is a part of the Cleveland Clinic health system.
“I see the patients that come into the emergency department, whether they need critical care or not, he explains. “I provide basic care services under the direction of the licensed physician.
Physician Assistant Daily Routine
John (along with other emergency medicine physician assistants) works 12-hour shifts, and he sees anywhere from 25-40 patients in that time.
“I see everything from sore throats to heart attacks, he says. “We have a physician in the department 24 hours a day, and the PA s work with the physicians. In the emergency department, you never know what you re going to see, but we typically handle providing labs and x-rays for our patients, interpreting that data, and ordering the appropriate treatment
“The majority of the patients are sent home if they do not require additional care, and the physicians do not see them directly, he continues. “Patients that need more care are admitted to the appropriate department.
Physician Assistant: Steps to Success
“Humility is one of the main traits that you need, John advises. “You have to be compassionate. PAs come into the field not to make a large income but to take care of people.
Physician assistants also need to stay current with medical news and procedures, and that means continuing education.
“You have to be able to interrelate with physician supervisors and other hospital staff, says John.
Physician Assistant Job Opportunities
Physician assistants can expect tremendous job growth over the next few years due to both the profession expanding and the evolution of the healthcare field.
However, the path to a physician assistant job isn t a walk in the park.
“The qualifications to get into the program are rigorous, John explains. “Most programs require a bachelor s degree and some medical experience. There are a lot of people applying, so the competition is strong, Also, most programs only take between 25-50 students.
“Being a dependent practitioner with a lot of autonomy, says John. “I get to see most of my patients on my own, and my physicians trust me. They don t have to be looking over my shoulder to make sure that my work is being done.
As with most working in the healthcare field, John also enjoys being able to aid people with their medical conditions.
“Being a physician assistant is seeing the smile on a person s face when you can help them with their problems, he explains. “That thank you is worth more than you can ever get paid for.
Physician Assistant s Future Ambitions
John plans on being able to bring in some younger people to the profession and have them see how the career has evolved.
Advice for Prospective Physician Assistants
“Gobble up everything you can learn, John advises. “You have to learn new things; that s why they call it the practice of medicine.
“Remember that you are there to comfort and help people, he continues. “Patients aren t there for you to flex your muscles and demonstrate your medical knowledge. This field is not something that you should take lightly.