One of the things I’ve always wanted in life is to help people be healthy. Science and the human body fascinate me and I love sports and understanding human performance. I’ve stood on the sidelines of NFL games treating pro football players, and I’ve talked young athletes through clinical procedures like knee aspirations, injections and surgical procedures that can sometimes seem a little scary.
My job is a physician assistant (PA) and I’ve been in this line of work for nearly 15 years. One reason I think am lucky because I get to spend more time with the patient than most physicians are able to. To be quite honest, being able to educate my patients and listen to their concerns makes me happy and fulfilled in my job, and it helps me have a deeper understanding of their healthcare needs.
PAs play an enormous role allowing patients to schedule appointments sooner than they might have been able to otherwise. Have you ever had to schedule a doctor’s appointment? Of course you have. Many times, you’ll be able to get an appointment with a PA faster than you would with a doctor. PAs are also a crucial part of patient education: you or your child can ask PAs questions you may not want to ask your doctors. I’m a little nerdy (I said I love science, right?) but I think PAs are kind of like nerve center of an orthopedic practice – they help keep it under control and functioning smoothly.
Physician assistants are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who can assess, diagnose and treat conditions, create treatment plans, manage and design preventative care, assist with surgery, prescribe medication, conduct physical exams, and much more – so you can be confident knowing we are fully trained. Many of us have worked as nurses, paramedics, athletic trainers, etc. prior to going to PA school. We go through residency-type rotations in most major specialties and can work in all medical specialties, so we’re knowledgeable in many fields. Believe it or not, there is only a 3-month difference between the classroom academic component of a physician’s training and that of a PA.
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At OrthoCarolina, where I work, we have more than 90 PAs. Even in a growing practice they help keep our clinics running smoothly, and most importantly, patients taken care of. When you see a PA, you are getting top tier care with a highly trained professional.
National Physician Assistant Week is October 6-12 - let’s celebrate these medical professionals!
Aaron Hewitt PA-C is a physician assistant with the Ortho Carolina Sports Medicine Center. He is a former assistant athletic trainer with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and is an orthopedic provider for UNC-Charlotte and Myers Park High School. He also is a physician assistant team lead for Sports Medicine, Spine, Hand & Pediatrics and a clinical and surgical preceptor for Physician Students.