I was lucky that the PA role had already been initiated prior to me starting. Had I started at a hospital or service that was PA naive, I would have had to engage in more PA role awareness and education.
Continuity of Care – Residents rotate every 2 months or so depending on what level of residency they are in. Having a PA, one constant person, on the surgery team that knows the patients helps during the transition of new team members when residents rotate. I also have established relationships with the interdisciplinary team.
Research – I have an active role in research and quality improvement and my staff physicians really appreciate it. I work on the randomized control trial, monitoring results everyday. Having a PA/ dedicated member of the team to take on a leadership role in these types of QI projects is valuable.
Patient safety – I am constant member of the team, there are things that a new team member may not know but I can alert them to it. This way I am able to help fill the gaps in patient communication and assist in decision making.
Reduced Resident Workload – General surgery residents are overworked and are often on-call or post-call, and must juggle academic half days. There are also now restrictions on how many hours residents work. This creates gaps in care, and having a PA on the team who is there consistently on the ward able to share resident workload leads to a higher satisfaction with their rotation.
Reduced staff workload – When a PA is helping with a surgeon in clinic, we are able to help the physicians see patients faster in clinic. This frees the staff surgeon to see more complex cases. With increasing experience, knowledge and skills, the surgeons often rely on me to address complex disposition issues, because they know I am acquainted with that process and coach other members of the team (residents). The staff surgeons are also not as worried about the resident orientation as I am available to assist in this area.