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Career Story: Physician Assistant In A Pediatric Cardiology Unit

Physician Assistant In A Pediatric Cardiology Unit

Job Title: Physician Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a teaching hospital in Boston.

Education: BA, Psychology, UMass-Amherst •• MHP, PA-C, Northeastern University

Previous Experience: I worked as a clinical supervisor of urgent care at a Boston-area hospital from 1994-98 prior to attending graduate school.

Job Tasks: I am a physician assistant caring for adults with congenital heart disease in a pediatric hospital. Prior to the birth of my daughter 4 years ago, I worked full-time rotating through the in-patient and out-patient hospital settings. I am currently focusing my clinical time in the out-patient clinic. I interview, examine, order testing, and make clinical diagnoses, and ultimately implement treatment plans for patients with heart disease. This can include simple teaching, treatment of infection, heart failure management, and referral to surgery. My job is multi-faceted as my patients are often quite complex with multiple medical problems. For the most part, our team acts as the primary referral and coordinating source of medical care for this unique patient population. I feel that a large part of my job is to educate patients about the heart disease, the anatomy/physiology, and expected lifetime treatment course. In general, my job is challenging and rewarding. I really feel that I get to know my patients and share in their lives over time.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is developing a bond with my patients and often their families. I also have the privilege of seeing people receive optimal treatment, and sometimes cutting-edge therapies, at one of the country's best pediatric cardiology programs.

The worst part of my job is dealing with a convoluted and obstructive insurance system. Sometimes it can take days to get a life-saving medical therapy approved for a patient, not to mention countless hours of my life that I will never recoup!

Job Tips: The best piece of advice I have for anyone who is trying to figure out which direction to take their life in, professionally, is take your time feeling out what you are interested in and good at. It is very difficult to know what you want to do when you are 17 or 18 year old.

To pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, I would strongly recommend getting your feet wet with patient care and experience at the bedside. Not only do the majority of programs require this prior to application but it is the only way to know if you are really cut out to be in medicine.

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