A Day in the Life: Physician Assistants

2013-01-02 09:36:40 by Patti Bauch - PR Specialist, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Janet Hulbert, MPAS PA-C, a Surgical Services physician assistant (PA), as she hurried into Akron Children’s Hospital’s burn center to check on a patient.

“In eighth grade, we had to give career reports," she said. "Most kids gave reports on more traditional careers like teaching. Mine was on physician assistants.”

And what makes this profession – considered #1 on Forbes' list of “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs” – so attractive?

For Hulbert and co-worker Anna Souders, MPAS PA-C, the unique and important role they are able to play as part of the Surgical Services team is very appealing – and gratifying.

Janet Hulbert consults with surgeon.

“The surgeons drive our team, but as PAs, we’re in a position to communicate the plan of care to the other team members and make sure it’s carried out,” said Hulbert. “It’s our job to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page.”

Anna Souders examines young Bentley Guarnieri.

Coordination of care is an important part of a PA's job. "We help fill the gaps by serving as a middle person between the physicians and nurses, as well as families," said Souders. "That means we do a lot of nursing and patient-family education.”

As such, PAs at Children’s are given plenty of face-to-face time with patients and families. That’s a role Souders and Hulbert enjoy – and take very seriously.

“Having the time to sit down and discuss their diagnosis and plan of care really helps them move forward toward recovery,” Hulbert said. “We answer a lot of questions.”

As surgical PAs, they sometimes assist in surgery, meaning they are often involved with patients from the time they arrive – sometimes through the ER – through surgery and discharge.

“That continuity of care is so important,” Hulbert said.

Anna Souders assists Dr. Timothy Pittinger in a surgery.

A recent day found that to be exactly the case. While Souders followed a trauma patient from the ER to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), Hulbert visited an inpatient unit to assess a patient she’d originally seen in the ER who was awaiting discharge.

Then it was on to the burn center before heading to the PICU, where she consulted with Souders on the trauma patient. At every step along the way, they made sure staff and family members were informed about each patient’s status and plan of care.

Janet Hulbert enjoys the face-to-face time she has with patient families.

Both have found Akron Children’s to be a great environment for PAs.

Anna Souders

One reason is the hospital’s Advance Practice Center, which oversees and guides the practice of PAs, nurse practitioners and other advance practice professionals. The center also ensures that these providers are voting members of the medical staff and have a role on key hospital boards and committees.

“Having this center shows a real commitment to advance practice providers,” said Souders, adding that the overall environment makes Children’s an outstanding place to work.

“We’re really respected here – by the physicians and the staff. Everyone said I wouldn’t regret it if I took a job here – and they were right,”Souders said. “Children’s really supports this profession.”

Career outlook

As noted in Forbes, the outlook for those interested in this profession is excellent.

“There are so many pathways to use your training – inpatient or outpatient settings, surgery, emergency medicine, physician offices, nursing homes – even research. You can really pick your own niche in medicine,” said Souders.

Janet Hulbert examines a patient.

Hulbert, who works part time, added that you can tailor your work as a PA to your lifestyle.

“There are jobs for everyone, from those eager ‘young guns’ just out of school to PAs who are nearing retirement and prefer a different pace,” she said. “This career choice provides the work-life balance I’m looking for. On some days, I’m a PA. On others I can just be a mom.”

The bottom line is job satisfaction – and both Hulbert and Souders find immense satisfaction in their work. “I love being part of a team that finds problems and fixes them,” said Hulbert.

And while she’s always loved working with children, she has found that becoming a mother has made her job even more meaningful.

“Before I had children, I didn’t think this job could get any better.  But now that I have kids, I can relate even better, parent to parent,” she said.

If you're interested in a PA job or other healthcare profession, check out physician assistant positions and other career opportunities at Akron Children’s.

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