What is a physician assistant (PA)?
A Physician Assistant works alongside physicians, nurses, pharmacist and other health care providers to provide optimal care to patients. Here at Texas Children’s, within the surgery department, PAs maintain a role in the operating room, in clinic and within inpatient management. In the operating room, PAs are able to act as first assists to our attending doctors. In clinic, PAs are able to see and treat patients independently or in conjunction with physicians. On the inpatient side of treatment PA’s work alongside the medical team to care for acutely sick patients. The role of PAs is diverse and continues to grow here.
What the surgical PA fellowship is and what a PA fellow does
The Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatric Surgery Fellowship for physician assistants is a unique, one of a kind, 12-month program that brings together the field of pediatric medicine and surgery. A surgical PA fellow is someone who has graduated PA school and passed the national certifying examination but is looking to gain additional hands-on experience in various pediatric surgical subspecialties including neurosurgery, congenital heart surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, urology, otolaryngology, trauma and plastic/craniofacial surgery. The PA fellows receive focused academic education and structured pediatric surgery training from world-renowned surgeons and physicians at the largest pediatric hospital in the country. The program provides opportunities including weekly surgery lectures and monthly skills simulation activity or workshops to help us become skillful, knowledgeable and proficient surgical PAs in the clinic, surgical inpatient floors and operating room. A PA fellow works alongside other PAs, nurse practitioners, resident physicians and attending physicians in a team setting to provide outstanding, comprehensive patient care. As a PA fellow, our duties are numerous and include inpatient rounding, writing progress notes and discharge instructions, performing complete and focused history and physical examinations, ordering appropriate imaging and medication in the clinic, and first assisting in the OR.
Why I chose to work at Texas Children’s
I chose the PA surgical fellowship at Texas Children’s for many reasons. I knew that by accepting this fellowship I would have the privilege of doing two things I’m very passionate about: working with children and working alongside surgeons in the operating room. Having recently graduated from PA school, I couldn’t imagine doing anything but what I love and Texas Children’s was the best fit for me. I knew Texas Children’s would provide me with opportunities to build inter-professional relationships with colleagues and offer consistent exposure to complicated surgical cases throughout the varied surgical subspecialties. Working at a teaching hospital like Texas Children’s will not only challenge me and help me grow as an individual, but will help nurture me into becoming the practitioner I’ve always dreamed of being.
Completing a fellowship program following PA school is not a requirement to practice, but was something I desired in order to further my medical knowledge. Following graduation I was researching the various programs offered to PAs and I stumbled across a new fellowship that was the first-of-its-kind in the country; a pediatric surgery PA fellowship at Texas Children’s. I have always loved working with children and desired to work in a surgical subspecialty following graduation, but since I had limited exposure to the different surgical subspecialties while I was training, I wasn’t sure exactly what field I wanted to commit myself to. The fellowship at Texas Children’s would provide training in several different surgical subspecialties by top pediatric surgeons in the country. There are also opportunities to attend lectures and grand rounds, as well as give back to the community by participating in research projects. The opportunities and experiences offered during the fellowship are like no other in the country!
As a child I knew I wanted to be successful one day and that the only way, for me, to become successful would be to further my education and give back. With the many different backgrounds and experiences of people we encounter, it is important to respect their feeling, opinions, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. A major goal in my life is to make a difference in the lives of others, so that I leave a lasting impression in those who I work with and care for professionally as well as personally. By pursing education with Texas Children’s as a pediatric surgical PA fellow I hope to become an important part of many people’s lives, as well as continue to grow as a person and a professional.
I chose Texas Children’s because of the opportunity for growth as a PA within the pediatric surgical field. The role of PAs at Texas Children’s have increased dramatically within the surgical department over the last five years and continues to follow that trend. As a new PA graduate my number one priority when looking for a position was to find an environment that would continue to drive my education. Texas Children’s is an ideal place for that. Being the largest pediatric hospital in the country, it houses experts in many fields, providing the best possible educational environment. The PA fellowship program I am participating in allows me to rotate on 11 surgical subspecialties. This type of exposure provides the best, well-rounded foundation of knowledge in pediatric surgery.
While frantically googling potential PA jobs during my first year of PA school, I stumbled upon an interesting offer; a chance to spend a year learning about pediatric surgery at the largest children’s hospital in the world. This opportunity wedged itself into the only unoccupied corner of my brain. After my year of clinical rotations, I recognized the rarity of the PA role in pediatrics, let alone pediatric surgery. I knew I had to take the chance to interview and learn more about the fellowship. The program is truly one of a kind. It presents the opportunity to rotate through 11 pediatric surgery subspecialties while working alongside world-renowned surgeons in a massive hospital filled with adorable children. I was ecstatic when I received my acceptance and I never looked back.