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the lifestyle of a cardiothoracic surgical pa

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Im just wondering if any CT surgical Pa can comment on the lifestyle of a CT surgical pa. What is your daily work schedule look like? what time do you start and leave? how many days are you on call per week and whats the daily schedule look like for the days that you are on call? how is the relationship between you and the surgeons (I heard that surgeons are really hard to deal with?)? and you and the surgical nurses and patients? Are you able to pick up a second pa job if you want or your on call schedule as CT pa prevents it?

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I agree with EMEDPA. Start at 7, do morning rounds. Go to the OR and help prep for surgery. Scrub in and get vein, 1st or 2nd assist, close. Help with bringing the patient to the ICU. Write post op orders. Either go back to OR for the next surgery or round again/do procedures/check in with the nurses. Leave time is dependent on how many cases you have, how many other PAs are on your service, who's taking call that night, etc. A well run team will get you out at 5 on the days you are not on call. When you are on call, you could end up staying all night until the next morning, onlt to do your day all over again. Weekend call is usually more mellow, you go in and round on the patients if there are no surgeries scheduled, and then go home and wait to be called in. We did 48 hour call on the weekend and we had to take every third weekend. You never know what your call days will look like. 

As for surgeons, that also depends. I have worked with some amazing ones and some not so amazing ones. The surgical nurses I have worked with are usually on top of their game, and easy to get along with. 

I don't think there is any way to have a second job when you work in CT surgery, unless you don't need to sleep or eat or see your family. Maybe if you were part time, but I have yet to see a part time CT surg job. Once you are on call, you have to be able to drop whatever you are doing and get your butt to the hospital ASAP. I have seen 1 job where the hours were set- every PA took a shift and they knew when they'd start and end. I don't know if they actually do get out at the end of their shift because surgery tends to be one of those jobs where you can't predict when you'll be done. 

I hope this answers your questions.

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beware of the CT surg job as a new PA. many say "great pay and benefits!" but when you break it down you are working 2 full time jobs....when I graduated there was one group paying 80k(at a time when 55k was a great salary), but they went through a batch of new grads every 6-12 months because the job was literally 80 hrs/week + call.

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As a student, here is what I observed on my CT rotation with a practice of two surgeons with one PA:

PA first-assisted 4-5 days a week, depending on the case load. Get to the hospital around 7, look at all the vitals/labs and write preop orders. Surgery around 8. After surgery, round with doc, pull out chest tubes/v wires, etc. Afterward, assist on other surgeries or see post-ops in clinic til day was done (3-5 pm on non-clinic days, 5-6 pm on clinic days). Call one weekday night and one weekend every 6. The PA-doc relationship with one surgeon was great and tolerable-to-good with the other. When both surgeons had cases, the second surgeon had a first assist they'd routinely call in. Relationship was typically ok with nurses. Most nurses were strictly CV nurses, so they knew their way around and what needed to happen and when. Same with surg techs -- the surgeons wouldn't let just any tech do it. The CVICU nurses were pretty good too, but some of them were travel nurses so things weren't as smooth. Patients were typically good -- just depends on the patient as with any area of medicine. Most patients had several comorbidities, so some were sicker than others but most seemed to be compliant, even with smoking cessation. The PA worked about 50-60 hours weekly, so I guess they could have worked a second job on the weekends if they really wanted/needed to. Hope this helps.

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Lifestyle is variable between different practices. University or high volume practices will be different due to the presence of fellows/residents or total case numbers, which require multiple ORs or rooms running late in the day.

In the average community practice you can expect a M-F operating schedule and weekend call. Groups vary on how the weekday call is covered (either by the PAs or the docs).

 

In general cardiac has more hours and higher acuity, which drives the salaries up.

You can join APACVS to get the practice survey. You may be able to buy it as a nonmember but if you are interested in cardiac you should join.

A few numbers:

 

According to the APACVS data, in 2013 the most common findings were:

 

-call Q3 to Q4 weekends

-40-49 hrs/week (with 50-59/wk at a close second)

-90% do EVH

-~50% do ERAH

-call involves surgical call and phone calls from inpatient units or patients from home

-~half earn 100-150k

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beware of the CT surg job as a new PA. many say "great pay and benefits!" but when you break it down you are working 2 full time jobs....when I graduated there was one group paying 80k(at a time when 55k was a great salary), but they went through a batch of new grads every 6-12 months because the job was literally 80 hrs/week + call.

Really ...is that true ...Most deserving peoples of the community are working 80 Hrs a week. 

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Im just wondering if any CT surgical Pa can comment on the lifestyle of a CT surgical pa. What is your daily work schedule look like? what time do you start and leave? how many days are you on call per week and whats the daily schedule look like for the days that you are on call? how is the relationship between you and the surgeons (I heard that surgeons are really hard to deal with?)? and you and the surgical nurses and patients? Are you able to pick up a second pa job if you want or your on call schedule as CT pa prevents it?

 

it sucks.

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As a student, here is what I observed on my CT rotation with a practice of two surgeons with one PA:

PA first-assisted 4-5 days a week, depending on the case load. Get to the hospital around 7, look at all the vitals/labs and write preop orders. Surgery around 8. After surgery, round with doc, pull out chest tubes/v wires, etc. Afterward, assist on other surgeries or see post-ops in clinic til day was done (3-5 pm on non-clinic days, 5-6 pm on clinic days). Call one weekday night and one weekend every 6. The PA-doc relationship with one surgeon was great and tolerable-to-good with the other. When both surgeons had cases, the second surgeon had a first assist they'd routinely call in. Relationship was typically ok with nurses. Most nurses were strictly CV nurses, so they knew their way around and what needed to happen and when. Same with surg techs -- the surgeons wouldn't let just any tech do it. The CVICU nurses were pretty good too, but some of them were travel nurses so things weren't as smooth. Patients were typically good -- just depends on the patient as with any area of medicine. Most patients had several comorbidities, so some were sicker than others but most seemed to be compliant, even with smoking cessation. The PA worked about 50-60 hours weekly, so I guess they could have worked a second job on the weekends if they really wanted/needed to. Hope this helps.

 

that's very cushy for CT. but I was in the SICU. it was a nightmare. hated it

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I agree with Andersen. Many many years ago, I did it for couple years until life circumstance pulled me back into EM setting.

 

I found that rounds started at 0500 with whole team rounding on all day 1-3 post ops, all sicu and step down patients. With some floor rounding as time dictated. Surgeries started between 6 and 7 am and went on through the afternoon stopping anywhere between 3 and 7 pm depending on demand, surgeons, and complexity of cases.

 

PA s were extremely well regarded, and ruled the floors and units. Docs and pas were integral and interchangeable .. The pa would often take an unstable floor patient back to the or, get all set up and open the chest before the surgeon arrived.

 

Lines, tubes, pressors, wires, pumps, etc, were all purview of the floor PA.

 

If you are on top of your game ( or want to be), find a Cts Which utilizes their PAs to do more than harvest vein/artery, and become studly.

 

Lesser beings are found in the trenches of EM, trauma, cardiology, etc.

 

Studs, however, are in the CTS suites and teams.

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