A dictionary definition of the word typical refers to something that conforms to a particular type. In everyday usage, we use the term to describe characteristics that are expected or anticipated from experience, empirical evidence, or proven the average. For example, the typical flu symptoms include fever, body aches, and headaches.
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In the world of the PA, a typical day would match what the typical day for a doctor in most specialties and general practice is. In a clinical setting, these duties include tending to patients, making notations on the medical condition, prescribing meds, referring to other specialists, and ordering further testing procedures.
In a thriving medical practice, a PA provides an invaluable service by concentrating on those patients whose diagnosis and treatment is within his/her realm of expertise. By doing so, the PA frees the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) for the more complex and severe cases. In this endeavor, the PA offers interpersonal care to each patient and, possibly, decreases patient waiting times.
Within the medical profession, there are about 29 specialties and numerous subspecialties. Examples of specialties are cardiology, dermatology, orthopedics, and gynecology. Some of the subspecialties are cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, hematology, and oncology. Regardless of the specific area of medicine, you are likely to find a PA. Consequently, the typical workday will vary according to the patients’ ailments, treatments, physical condition, and mental state. The latter refers to PAs who work in psychiatry.
The responsibilities of a PA employed in a psychiatrist’s office will be substantially different from a surgical physician assistant. The former would have a routine day at the office – counseling patients and prescribing medication. With escalating mental health needs in the United States, there is a demand for PAs in this field. A report from the American Psychiatric Association in 2014 stated that there were approximately 1,500 certified PAs working in psychiatry. Again, as with most specialties, a PA generally sees patients with less severe mental disorders. Therefore, the primary function is med management and perhaps counseling under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
The PA trained in surgical services would have different and more challenging daily activities than her/his counterpart in dermatology or pediatrics. As a surgical PA, the essential functions of the job may involve:
- Obtains patient’s medical information and history, reviews the patient’s medical record, performs a physical exam, and updates the patient’s medical record.
- Discusses the surgical procedure, answers questions, discloses the risk factors, and addresses abnormal physical findings.
- Orders any necessary pre-op tests, draws blood, and conducts EKGs.
- Assists the surgeon or surgical team during the operation.
- Conducts post-operative evaluations and procedures, and advises patients on the recovery process and rehabilitation, if applicable.
These are a few of the duties of a PA involved in a surgical practice of any type. It could be orthopedic or plastic surgery.
One area in medicine that guarantees an atypical and unpredictable work shift is an emergency room. The proliferation of urgent care clinics in the United States provides some relief to ERs; however, a 30% increase in opioid overdoses across the nation supplies patients to trauma centers. Regardless of the impact of drugs, the U.S. experiences about 40 million injury-related ER visits annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2017).
Both the ER or ED (emergency department) doctors and physician assistants have to thrive on the stress created by tending to a patient whose life is in jeopardy. Each patient who enters the ER presents the opportunity for direct patient care. As with other fields in medicine, the day-to-day schedule might be predicable and regulated. In contrast to the ER assistant, whose daily activities are beyond his/her control. There is no schedule or list of patients the PA at the commencement of the workday. The clinical PA, in most practices, doesn’t content with splinting limbs, dressing burns, applying casts or elastic bandages, performing diagnostic tests, assisting the ER doctors on complex procedures, and suturing wounds. Additionally, the ER setting may require twelve-hour shifts instead of the customary eight or nine hours in a medical office.
The job duties of the PA dictate she/he can expect during the typical day. Do you want the relaxed atmosphere of being an Aesthetic Physician Assistant? Performing laser hair removal and non-surgical services are distant from the turmoil of a busy trauma center. Anyone considering a career as a PA should decide what type of workday is suitable to one’s personality and stress-level.
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