Jessica St. Aubin, PA, believes variety is the spice of life. Whether in the office or at home, she enjoys exploring new challenges because it keeps her motivated and advances her skillset, all the while adding depth and meaning to her life. In fact, it’s one reason she chose to become a physician assistant. The flexibility it lends allows her to work in a wide range of medical specialties throughout her career.
It’s that adventurous spirit Jessica brings to the role of Akron Children’s newest physician assistant in pediatric radiology. Each day, she’s up for the challenge of applying the best imaging techniques to diagnose and treat children and teens with medical problems and injuries. She splits her time between Interventional Radiology (performing radiology procedures, such as joint injections and feeding tube placements) and Diagnostic Radiology (performing diagnostic procedures, such as upper gastrointestinal studies, and testing for bladder and urethral abnormalities).
But just like her professional life, Jessica enjoys variety in her personal life, too. When she’s not giving 100 percent to patients, she’s giving it her all pursuing a variety of athletic goals, from triathlons to hiking challenges. The strength, bravery and determination it takes to go outside her comfort zone is a true testament to how she’ll never give up when it comes to helping patients reach optimal health.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
As a community member and parent, my family has always had great experiences at Akron Children’s. The hospital system has a unique culture where the patient truly is the focus of everyone working here — which I believe is how every health-care institution should operate — and I was drawn to that culture.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish.
I am a physician assistant (PA) in radiology, splitting my time between Interventional Radiology (IR) and Diagnostic Radiology. In Interventional Radiology, I perform radiology procedures, such as joint injections and feeding tube placements under imaging guidance. In Diagnostic Radiology, I perform diagnostic procedures, such as upper gastrointestinal studies and testing for bladder and urethral abnormalities under fluoroscopic guidance.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
As a PA, I am trained as a generalist, so I have the opportunity to change medical specialties throughout my career. This flexibility is part of what attracted me to the PA profession. My past work experiences include trauma surgery and general surgery, and I have found that I enjoy areas of medicine that include procedures. I interacted with radiology and interventional radiology a lot in my previous PA roles, and developed an interest in the specialty.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
I decided to become a provider around my junior year of college. I was pursuing pre-med coursework, but my original intent was to become a physical therapist. During college, I had the opportunity to shadow a number of different health-care professionals, and that is when I was first introduced to the PA role. I chose to pursue a career as a provider because I enjoy interacting with people and the problem-solving/critical thinking that comes with diagnosing and treating illness, and like most providers, I wanted to use those skills to help people. I chose the PA route because I believe a team-based approach to health care can help a greater number of patients access high-quality health care, and because the PA profession offered a lot of different opportunities in medicine.
What do you like most about being a provider?
My favorite thing about being a provider is helping patient families better understand their condition or upcoming procedure. I enjoy finding different ways to explain medical problems or procedures in ways that patients can understand. I think a lot of the fear and anxiety that some patients have in health care is a result of providers not giving them the information in a way that they can understand.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope to leave the impression that I truly care for my patients. I want to help them feel comfortable and give them the knowledge they need to participate in their own care.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is helping patients through what can be uncomfortable moments, either due to pain or physical discomfort, or just nerves and fear of the unknown.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of being a provider?
I talk with my colleagues and co-workers to process emotionally difficult situations. Also, when I just need time to myself to think something through, I go for a run or bike ride to process my emotions.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Alliance, Ohio.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family includes my husband, Brian, and our two sons, Adam (11) and Ian (7), as well as our furry family members, our cat, Mowgli, and our hamster, Echo.
Who had the greatest influence on you and why?
My mother, Karen, had the greatest influence on me. As a single parent, she always worked hard to support our family, but never missed an important moment, big or small. She taught me the value of hard work and encouraged me to pursue whatever goals moved me. She has always been, and still is, my greatest cheerleader! She also taught me and continues to teach me how valuable it is to have close relationships with family.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy spending time being active outside in nature — running, cycling or hiking with my family and friends. I enjoy pursuing different athletic goals to stay motivated, and explore new places and activities. A few years ago, I started training for and competing in triathlons, and I have enjoyed completing different hiking challenges with my family and friends in the Summit Metroparks or Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
What values are most important to you?
Honesty, integrity and compassion are most important to me.