All In A Day's Work: Courtney Smith, a certified Physician Assistant at the Park Nicollet Eagan Clinic, talks about her work.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: I work in the Department of Internal Medicine and see patients between the ages of 16 and 70. I perform physicals, procedures such as skin biopsies, and treat other acute care needs such as respiratory and bladder infections and rashes. I care for patients with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, cancer, depression and anxiety. I diagnose conditions, order and interpret laboratory tests and imaging, prescribe medications and refer to specialists if needed. I have a special interest in women's health issues.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
A: Healthcare is moving in a team-oriented direction and away from the doctor making all the decisions. Now the doctor, physician assistant and patient work together along with nurses and support staff to provide competent and cost-effective care.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I have one supervising physician in internal medicine and work with another eight family-practice physicians. I also work with a rooming nurse, other PAs, a pharmacist, clerical staff and receptionist. I also talk with radiologists and other specialists and consultants.
Q: Why did you become a physician assistant?
A: I grew up in Rochester, and everyone in my family was involved in healthcare. I was a patient at the Mayo Clinic and had a good background. When a good friend died of cancer at 21, I really decided that I wanted to help patients. I shadowed physicians and PAs and decided to go the PA route.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: I like that I get to help patients on a daily basis. I work with both healthy and chronically ill patients, so I get to see the whole healthcare spectrum. I enjoy focusing on health promotion and disease prevention, which is a good, positive thing. I get to work with patients and their families on a very personal level.