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Career Story: Physician Assistant In A Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit

Physician Assistant In A Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit

Job Title: Physician Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a public hospital in Hartford, Connecticut.

Education: BS, Biology, University of Scranton •• graduate degree, Physician Associate, Yale University

Previous Experience: I was injured in my research position and was treated by a PA and decided that was the career I wanted to change to.

Job Tasks: I work in a cardiothoracic intensive care unit where we care for patients after open-heart surgery as well as overflow of trauma, medical and neurosurgical ICU patients. I am in charge of eighteen patients at a time. I administer medications to keep the patients' hearts and blood pressure stable, wean them from the breathing machines and treat cardiac arrhythmias; I partake in family meetings, and I respond to cardiac alerts. As a cardiothoracic mid-level practitioner, I also care for heart transplant patients and patients with 'artificial' heart machines. I insert large intravenous lines to administer heart medications, float dialysis catheters for those patients whose kidneys are not functioning, remove staples from surgical wounds, remove the tubes that drain extra fluid after the operation, and sew wounds on trauma patients. I also order and review x-rays. I read electrocardiograms to see if patients' hearts are pumping properly.

After surgery, when the patients are off heart medications and breathing without the ventilator, I brief them about getting better and taking care of themselves. I help them with breathing exercises, encourage them to adopt good nutrition (a big part of healing after a major operation), help them get out of bed and start doing things again. I help coordinate physical therapy for them and do discharge planning so the they will have somewhere to go for rehabilitation after leaving the hospital.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing a patient do well in the operating room and come off the breathing machine within a few hours of getting to our unit. The worst part is when the patient doesn't do well, and by following the patients wishes, the family chooses to stop all life support and the patient passes away.

Job Tips: It's a great career. I can go to any field of medicine at any time because of my broad scope of training. As a mom, I can find jobs to fit the hours I need, whether part-time or full-time. As well, PA's are recognized internationally, so I can go to another state or country and always find a job. It's satisfying to see someone so sick get better, and knowing that you were a part of that.

Popular Schools offering Physicians Assistant Programs

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Brightwood College
Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Clovis, North Hollywood, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Vista

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

  • Programs: Medical Assistant , Healthcare Assistant
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San Joaquin Valley College
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Mayfield College
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Platt College
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Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

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California College San Diego
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National Career College
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Institute of Technology
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You can get started on a new career with Institute of Technology.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.iot.edu/disclosure

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Unitek College
Concord, Fremont, Sacramento, San Jose

Unitek College™ is a privately held vocational school dedicated to helping you gain the skills needed to advance your career or begin a brand new career. 

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Work toward your degree online with University of Cincinnati Online.

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UEI College
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At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

  • Programs: Medical Assistant (8-Month Diploma Program)
  • Degrees: Diploma
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