Judith Workman, a physician assistant at Park Nicollet Chanhassen clinic talks about her job. She discusses why she became a physician assistant, what a typical workday is like, and how her role fits into the bigger healthcare picture.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
I start at 7 a.m. with paperwork, interpreting lab results, sending letters to patients and calling them. I start seeing patients at 8 a.m. I work under the supervision of a physician, but I see patients independently with access to physicians if I want their opinion about a patient's care. I do physical exams, take care of acute illnesses, and help patients manage chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension. I can prescribe medication and order and interpret tests. I do a lot of patient education both on health conditions and also on good health habits and preventative health.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
Since the 1960s there's been an uneven distribution of primary care physicians so the physician assistant profession was created to expand the delivery of quality medical care. Since then, physician assistants have developed a practice of medicine where under a supervising physician, we provide comprehensive healthcare.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
I interact with patients, doctors, nurses, family members, other physician assistants, specialists, X-ray technologists, pharmacy staff, and other clinic staff.
Q: Why did you become a physician assistant?
For me, it's a second career. I worked for 15 years for General Mills as an operations planner but I came to the point where I wanted to do something completely different. I had always had an interest in medicine. This was a way of getting into practicing medicine without having to go through seven years of medical school.
Q: What do you like about your work?
I enjoy meeting new people and helping people with their healthcare needs. I like developing relationships with people and earning their trust. I like seeing a variety of people too; that's why I like family practice. My youngest patient is two weeks old and my oldest is in her 90s, so it's a nice variety.