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Guest hcruz496

I currently work doing medical assisting in a family practice and I start PA school this summer. Twice today I’ve had patients ask me if I’m a PA when taking their vitals and doing EKGs. There is a serious lack of knowledge of what a PA is or does amongst the general public. If I get this as an MA what do you guys say when you get this confusion from patients as a PA?

When I worked in urgent care I would see patients be ugly to the PA if they didn’t get the antibiotics they didn’t need from her. They’d treat her as though a doctor would’ve known better. I sense a long battle ahead..

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From "Roadhouse": : If somebody gets in your face and calls you a jerk, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. It's nothing personal.

 

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3 hours ago, LeQuack said:

I've seen the same thing working as a medical assistant in my college town... The immediate disinterest when I explain that I am going to PA school and not medical school is also amusing/interesting. You can't be that surprised when even some doctors/medical students don't even know what a PA does. I have family members who are doctors and some thought the PA was a literal assistant for the doctor, which is generally untrue outside surgery/certain specialties. I think more people are becoming aware of other providers though, as NP's and PA's are becoming more common.

Easy killer. Even the surgical PAs aren’t literal assistants for the doc... the majority of my day is spent independent of the surgeons I work with

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38 minutes ago, anewconvert said:

Easy killer. Even the surgical PAs aren’t literal assistants for the doc... the majority of my day is spent independent of the surgeons I work with

How much, or what all would you say you're able to do while in the OR? I know it's dependent on the surgeon but just curious

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16 minutes ago, TheLastStone said:

How much, or what all would you say you're able to do while in the OR? I know it's dependent on the surgeon but just curious

I know you weren't asking me, but I will put my 2 cents in...

I work in ortho spine surgery and do a lot. I do the usual OR duties- check in the patient, mark the surgery site, do orders, position/drape, retract, etc. I also do the instrumentation during minimally invasive spinal fusion - including exposure, placing pedicle screws/rods, closing the fascial and superficial layer, etc. I love it, but it is very surgeon dependent.

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14 hours ago, TheLastStone said:

How much, or what all would you say you're able to do while in the OR? I know it's dependent on the surgeon but just curious

Depends a lot on the surgeons you work with. In my case I am months out of school and work in general surgery, my role is primarily camera driver and closing as the majority of our procedures are laparoscopic. A lot of positioning, draping, site marking, consenting. On robo cases I do all the above and help decide on approach, get the robot positioned, help put in ports, assist during surgery with swaps and then close. The doc scrubs in once during the initial set up then breaks scrub and doesn’t scrub back in.

On some cases I am functionally independent.  Had one the other day where I drained an enormous abscess of approximately 2 liters of pus on the right flank, positioned drains, set up a wound vac and closed while the doc was doing a deeper I&D on the left flank.  I walked into the OR and he said “that side is yours, have fun”... I did.

 

If you want in OR “independence” CT surgery and ortho PAs have really blazed a path. 

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19 hours ago, nixietink said:

I know you weren't asking me, but I will put my 2 cents in...

I work in ortho spine surgery and do a lot. I do the usual OR duties- check in the patient, mark the surgery site, do orders, position/drape, retract, etc. I also do the instrumentation during minimally invasive spinal fusion - including exposure, placing pedicle screws/rods, closing the fascial and superficial layer, etc. I love it, but it is very surgeon dependent.

That's good! Do you feel content and that you are compensated fairly and worked fairly? I'm guessing there are rounds and call involved with this as well.

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When I told my dentist I finally got into PA school, he later said best of luck with being a medical assistant. I don't think he really knows what a PA is, but then again they aren't utilized in dentistry? Still disappointed. 
Argh. My sister is a dentist and bathes in the glory of being the family "doctor." One Thanksgiving she asked if I liked my job being "the assistant" and only being able to see sniffles all day... (I've been in CT surgery and IR my entire career). Despite my attempts at education, I have to choose my battles within my own family.

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1 hour ago, mooko12 said:

Argh. My sister is a dentist and bathes in the glory of being the family "doctor." One Thanksgiving she asked if I liked my job being "the assistant" and only being able to see sniffles all day... (I've been in CT surgery and IR my entire career). Despite my attempts at education, I have to choose my battles within my own family.

When we went out to celebrate my acceptance to PA school, half of my fanily thought I was going to med school and the other half to nursing school...

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On 12/13/2017 at 4:35 PM, hcruz496 said:

I currently work doing medical assisting in a family practice and I start PA school this summer. Twice today I’ve had patients ask me if I’m a PA when taking their vitals and doing EKGs. There is a serious lack of knowledge of what a PA is or does amongst the general public. If I get this as an MA what do you guys say when you get this confusion from patients as a PA?

When I worked in urgent care I would see patients be ugly to the PA if they didn’t get the antibiotics they didn’t need from her. They’d treat her as though a doctor would’ve known better. I sense a long battle ahead..

Unfortunately my friend we are in a field where not respect/acceptance is not always imminent. We will probably have to explain what we do for many years. The most frustrating part is people underestimating the significance of your job and how hard you worked to get there. However it is very fulfilling and you will have patients that  are forever grateful to you and will only want to see PAs when you help them and that makes it worth it

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Don't get me started on the family stuff.  My wife and sister-in-law are both PT's.  My sister in law's husband is a flight nurse.  Anytime the family has a medical question, they call him, (I'm a former flight paramedic and have been in CT Surgery my whole PA career as well as rural ER and UC as well on the side so I'm only 3/4 smart.) and when he touts off the totally incorrect information, I just chuckle.  My sister-in-law who is a total biatch asks me all the time "do you like get the doctor his coffee and take his coats to the cleaners and all" and my reply is "after I take vein out of someones leg or when I'm done placing a swan line or chest tube or closing a chest..." she knows differently but her husband the rocket surgeon brain scientist transplant helicopter nurse pilot do-it-all tells her all the time in front of me "he can't do that, only NP's and qualified RN's can do that.... I swear there are days I want to beat myself with a football bat when they speak.  Best part, she calls me when her kids are sick and requests ABX's, I always say no for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I am petty :)

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my favorite family put down came from my grandmother:

"it's so funny that you and your sister both play around with going into medicine, but can't really commit....."

I'm me and my sister is a public health nutritionist (RD/MPH) who works with inner city folks with HIV and out of control type 2 dm, so I think we are both "working in medicine" and "committed".

funny thing is, my father , a well known neurologist, totally understood what I was doing and we used to discuss cases all the time...

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2 hours ago, TheDude said:

Don't get me started on the family stuff.  My wife and sister-in-law are both PT's.  My sister in law's husband is a flight nurse.  Anytime the family has a medical question, they call him, (I'm a former flight paramedic and have been in CT Surgery my whole PA career as well as rural ER and UC as well on the side so I'm only 3/4 smart.) and when he touts off the totally incorrect information, I just chuckle.  My sister-in-law who is a total biatch asks me all the time "do you like get the doctor his coffee and take his coats to the cleaners and all" and my reply is "after I take vein out of someones leg or when I'm done placing a swan line or chest tube or closing a chest..." she knows differently but her husband the rocket surgeon brain scientist transplant helicopter nurse pilot do-it-all tells her all the time in front of me "he can't do that, only NP's and qualified RN's can do that.... I swear there are days I want to beat myself with a football bat when they speak.  Best part, she calls me when her kids are sick and requests ABX's, I always say no for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I am petty :)

i don't have the patience you do, so kudos. i'd have ripped this family apart by now. 

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On 12/14/2017 at 3:03 PM, TheLastStone said:

That's good! Do you feel content and that you are compensated fairly and worked fairly? I'm guessing there are rounds and call involved with this as well.

I'm happy every day I go to work and yes, compensated fairly.

I am in a really unique situation where I do no rounding and take no call. He has a NP who works for the hospital does his discharging, and my ortho spine SP takes no call himself. The neurosurgeons at the hospital do, though...

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I'm happy every day I go to work and yes, compensated fairly.
I am in a really unique situation where I do no rounding and take no call. He has a NP who works for the hospital does his discharging, and my ortho spine SP takes no call himself. The neurosurgeons at the hospital do, though...

Sounds like you have it made in the shade [emoji41]


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If you want to be a PA, get used to the idea that no one quite understands your role.  I'm a year in.  I've had questions such as "when will the doctor be in?", "when you will finish school and be a real doctor?", and "can you ask Dr. X to sign two copies of this form for me?".  I've also had patients who are angry at my clinical decision making demand to talk to the real doctor.  The profession was badly named.

Fortunately, I am not in it for people to laud my accomplishments.  I get the best of both worlds in medicine.  I am not obligated to do administrative work that my physician friends are obligated to do.  I am not asked to make donations just because MD follows after my name.  I am able to say when I don't know something, and when I ask a colleague for help here and there, the patients feel they are getting better service.  If you can let the title confusion roll off of you, you'll have a great time.

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On 12/13/2017 at 4:35 PM, hcruz496 said:

I currently work doing medical assisting in a family practice and I start PA school this summer. Twice today I’ve had patients ask me if I’m a PA when taking their vitals and doing EKGs. There is a serious lack of knowledge of what a PA is or does amongst the general public. If I get this as an MA what do you guys say when you get this confusion from patients as a PA?

When I worked in urgent care I would see patients be ugly to the PA if they didn’t get the antibiotics they didn’t need from her. They’d treat her as though a doctor would’ve known better. I sense a long battle ahead..

I never get confused with an MA. More often I’m confused with a Physician. All my staff call me Dr. “O’neal”, which I corrected the first 6 times then gave up. Though they refer to us as midlevels as a group which I keep correcting them on, politely.

 I think once had someone ask for the doctor and told them they could make a new appointment at the front desk and ask for the list of names of the Advanced Practice Providers so it doesn’t happen again. He said he would just see me and I think he ended up happy with the visit.

What’s really funny is a couple times they complained about a PA they saw elsewhere thinking I’m a Physician (“you get it right doctor!”) even though I have PA on my name tag in big red letters. Pretty funny when I tell them that I’m a PA when they are thanking me for doing such a better job at the end of the visit.

When they call me doc, I say nothing because it’s a broad term that most service members, even retired ones, call everyone corpsman and up doc. I just say call me [first name], I just have a masters in medicine. I do correct them the first time they use the formal “Doctor.” Most just respond with “well you’re MY doctor.”

Sometimes they realize I’m a PA and ask when I’m going to be a Doctor. I use to say I wasn’t and explained a little, but now I just say that I plan on getting my Doctorate in Medical Science after I do a residency.

I see patients be ugly regardless of what the degree is and just find the easiest justification for why they are stupid (just a PA, just a resident, just a family doc, doesn’t care, I know my body, etc). 

 

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On 12/15/2017 at 9:28 PM, TheDude said:

Don't get me started on the family stuff.  My wife and sister-in-law are both PT's.  My sister in law's husband is a flight nurse.  Anytime the family has a medical question, they call him, (I'm a former flight paramedic and have been in CT Surgery my whole PA career as well as rural ER and UC as well on the side so I'm only 3/4 smart.) and when he touts off the totally incorrect information, I just chuckle.  My sister-in-law who is a total biatch asks me all the time "do you like get the doctor his coffee and take his coats to the cleaners and all" and my reply is "after I take vein out of someones leg or when I'm done placing a swan line or chest tube or closing a chest..." she knows differently but her husband the rocket surgeon brain scientist transplant helicopter nurse pilot do-it-all tells her all the time in front of me "he can't do that, only NP's and qualified RN's can do that.... I swear there are days I want to beat myself with a football bat when they speak.  Best part, she calls me when her kids are sick and requests ABX's, I always say no for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I am petty :)

I have the opposite problem. My family (who lives half way across the country) will call and say "I just saw my neurosurgeon and he said.....what do you think?" *sigh*

I finally told them my magical powers don't cross the Mississippi.

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On 12/15/2017 at 11:13 PM, wookie said:

i don't have the patience you do, so kudos. i'd have ripped this family apart by now. 

This is exactly what I was thinking.  In fact, I'm trying not to spend the next couple of hours formulating very choice responses to the family members in this thread.  

I listen to comedy on the radio and there was a guy who said "why get mad when you can have fun?  If someone cuts you off in traffic, a lot of times I'm just like 'oh, that was...neat'" 

This is meant to be funny but it's actually kind of striking.  In a case like this, I'd tell them I'm amused by how cute it is when someone doesn't understand the first thing about something. ]

more deep thoughts

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