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Physician Associate Case Study

Find out more about life as a Physician Associate (PA) by reading the case study below, written by an active PA.

A brief summary of local Surgical Care Team roles

I have worked in the Breast Unit for nearly two years now and enjoy it immensely. I graduated in 2013 and spent my first couple of years working in Trauma and Orthopaedics. My role in breast surgery is didactic and also involves endocrine surgery, as one of my consultants is a joint specialist. In my team there are four Consultants, two Registrars, one or two Core Trainees and another Physician Associate. The junior doctors in the team are also involved in general surgery on-call and night shifts. The PAs are the only consistent members of the team available during weekdays.

How have surgical care team roles supported patient care, the service, and the team?

As a Physician Associate, I am involved in numerous aspects of patient care:

  • Surgical planning; on weekly basis I discuss all elective patients with the team, and ensure they are optimised for surgery.
  • I review in-patients that are post-elective procedures or post-general surgery, caring for them and getting them ready for discharge.
  • Common ward procedures for me include; phlebotomy, cannulas, taking arterial blood gas, and catheterisation.
  • Clinics; here I see new patients in both endocrine and breast clinics. I examine, confirm diagnoses, formulate care plans and discuss these with the consultant.
  • Theatres; I make sure everything is in place for surgery to go ahead which included setting-up technical equipment, first assisting, suturing and three layer wound closures, followed by post-operative ward rounds.
  • I carry the team bleep and am often the first point of call for reviewing and formulating plans for patients that come in acutely with e.g. mastitis, abscess, related sepsis, impending skin necrosis etc.

What challenges do Surgical Care Teams face?

In my opinion, the current stumbling points for a Physician Associate are the inability to order ionisation radiation, and prescribe medication. However with team support I am able to get round these issues successfully.

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