|Author: Julia Elliott|
|PA Embraces Diversity of Family Practice|
|Some PAs know right away that they have chosen the right profession. This was the case with Joe Ollivier, a PA with Vermillion Medical Clinic, in South Dakota. Ollivier chose Family Practice because of the challenge it presents. "Each time I leave one examining room to go into another, I never know what it will hold," says Ollivier. It is the diversity of conditions he encounters on the job that makes his work so interesting.
Living on the edge seems to be a comfortable place for Ollivier because he claims his present position gives him the opportunity to utilize almost every part of his education. Specializing in one field is a matter of choice and Ollivier feels that his choice is one of the most challenging of the primary care specialties. He explains, "One has to be familiar with all aspects of other sub-specialties, so as to provide the utmost care for your patients." When he started out as a PA, Ollivier knew he had the right profession, but he was not too sure what area he wanted to specialize in. They all interested him, but Ollivier wanted the challenge of discovery. He wanted the continuous stimulation of medicine "by having to take on the whole scope of patient care, from diagnosis to treatment."
The Vermillion Medical Clinic, where Ollivier has worked since 1996, began as a part-time position while he was an Assistant Professor for the Physician Assistant Studies Program at the University of South Dakota. The faculty appointment obtained in 1996, involved reviewing admission applicants, maintaining accreditation, clinical practice, scholarly activity as well as being the primary lecturer in Advanced Immunology and Pathophysiology. In June 2000, he left his position at the University of South Dakota, and began to work at Vermillion more often, a move that has helped him enjoy medicine more fully.
The Vermillion Medical Clinic is an extension of the Yankton Medical Group, known for changing the way people perceive rural community healthcare. Located twenty-six miles away from Vermillion, the physician owned and run Yankton Medical Group provides outreach on a weekly basis in the areas of orthopedics, OB/GYN, surgery, audiology, dermatology, ophthalmology and pulmonary care. They have just recently added the services of an ear nose and throat specialist to their already impressive list of professionals that are available to their patients. They have expanded services in mammography, radiology, laboratory and ultrasound and have teamed with area specialists, and accessed new technology. With two full time family practice physicians, one full-time and one part-time pediatrician, and by sharing resources with Yankton Medical Clinic and maintaining staff privileges at the local hospital, Vermillion is able to provide the most comprehensive care possible.
As Ollivier works under the direction of supervising physician Dr. William Dendinger, his primary specialty is family practice, but he is also proficient in pulmonary and urgent care medicine. He admits that he "doesn't work a nine to five day, in fact I work a lot of full and half days that might include coming in at six p.m. and working in the Convenient Care Clinic until nine p.m. My day to day activities are to provide access to patients who cannot get to see their regular physician, or would like a same day appointment." His expertise is tested in many areas as he provides a full range of primary care duties that include patient education and preventive medicine to the many patients that come through the doors of the clinic. Ollivier explains that he "might do a well child exam, and then move on to do a laceration repair, or splinting and casting procedure on the patient in the next exam room." Not limited to age, Ollivier may go on to yet the next exam room and perform healthcare maintenance on a woman that needs a pelvic exam and Pap smear, and continue on to the next room and do an evaluation on a ninety-year old person with a skin problem. The diversity of illnesses I see on a daily basis is what makes the job I chose so exhilarating."
As one of the first two PA's to work in the Convenient Care department, Ollivier takes pride in being able to experience the responsibility of making decisions in patient's treatment and management. His past position as a PA at the Emery Medical Center in Utah gave him valuable hands on experience treating patients in a rural setting with limited medical support. Although he is proficient in the area of urgent care, Ollivier also has an extensive background in Respiratory Therapy.
While Chief of Respiratory Therapy at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Fresno, California, he gained valuable leadership credentials as he supervised 12 therapists and an assistant chief. During this time he was responsible for administration, recruitment, maintaining JCAHO accreditation, CAP standards for the blood gas laboratory, and overall daily functions of the department. The prestigious position was awarded to him while he was the Assistant Chief of the Respiratory Therapy of this department, where he supervised 10 therapists over three shifts. His responsibilities as an Assistant Chief included providing in-services to staff and continuing education on current equipment, maintaining quality assurance of work being performed and effect actions to correct weak areas. Duties he performed in the gas lab including troubleshooting, maintenance and quality control, carrying out directives of the chief therapist, and performing occasional floor therapy were all familiar to him, because he was a staff therapist in this department before he was appointed Assistant Chief.
This impressive list of credentials all began in 1986 when he began working as a registered respiratory therapist at Valley Medical Center in Fresno California where he provided a complete scope of respiratory therapy including small volume nebulizer treatments and sputum induction. As a member of the code blue team in the intensive care unit, his work included performing respiratory therapy in medical/surgical/ burn and neonatal ICU's. Ollivier was responsible for emergency room coverage that would provide assisting with intubations, ventilator setup and monitoring.
Born in Denver, Colorado, Joe Ollivier had lived most of his life in California, where he entered the FNP/PA Program at University of California at Davis, in 1991. During his time at UC Davis, Ollivier applied for and received a National Health Service Scholarship, which paid total tuition and a stipend for the full two years while he was at UC Davis. In return for the scholarship, Ollivier was required to provide two years of his services in an underserved area. Out of the list of possibilities that were presented, Ollivier chose rural Utah, where he was involved with family practice, emergency medicine and some occupational medicine, which gave him a well-rounded introduction to the PA world.
Working with coal miners and their families provided Ollivier with some interesting cases along with some interesting history that has affected the health of these families. Ollivier explains "in the early 1980's a mine fire resulted in twenty-seven deaths and paved the way for improved conditions for the workers." Ollivier said "they gave me a tour of the big mine that some of my patients worked in and it was pretty impressive to find out how they mined the coal. There were not too many health issues other than the work related injuries that come with manual labor workers because of the stringent Environmental controls that are in place today. They have designed the mines to have fresh air continuously circulating with the assistance of huge fans, and the emphasis is on safety. Some miners wear specially designed masks to help further enhance the filtration of the air inside the mines. Due to the large measure of safety and modernized air filtration systems that are in place today, there are hardly any known cases of black lung disease occurring in this mining community."
After he left Utah, Ollivier moved to South Dakota and took a teaching job at the University of South Dakota. Ollivier said, "it was interesting and quite a learning experience that I have been able to incorporate into my medical career. Also during my career, I had the opportunity to write on topics that I felt would be helpful to my fellow healthcare colleagues." Olivier's publications include topics on Space Sickness, Myositis Ossificans, Skin Disorders, and Human Physiology, among others.
To add to his already well rounded career Ollivier has been the recipient of the following awards: National Health Service Scholarship, University at California-Davis, 1991-93; Radiometer American Literary Award for Best "PFT Corner;" Featured in A.R.C.F.'s journal Respiratory Care, 1991; Performance Award by Dept. Veteran's Affairs for Superior Performance 1990; Suggestion Award for Exhalation/Isolation Systems for Respirators by the Veterans Administration, 1990; and Performance Award by the Veterans Administration for Superior Performance, 1986
Ollivier's love for writing is as evident as his desire to share with others some very important issues that he has been involved with in the different areas of his career. For the future, he plans to stay current in his field and continue to write about the latest in skills, procedures and methods as he learns about them. Conveying to others the knowledge that he has learned himself to help them learn as he did, in his quest to be the best that he can be in his field. Ollivier says that he "is required to take board exams every seven years and he looks forward to them because they keep us current in all areas of the PA field." He feels that constant education is a valuable tool to apply for the purpose of providing the cutting edge in treatment and service to his patients and keeps him prepared to handle health issues armed with the latest knowledge. His wealth of exposure in different areas of health has led him to a truly rewarding career that was born out of the need to help others as proficiently as possible.
Ollivier feels that staying involved with organizations within his field is beneficial and encourages others to do the same. The involvement with these professional committees and organizations provide comprehensive connections to associations as they strive for top standards driven by those devoted enough to become involved. Ollivier is presently involved with the following organizations: AAPA since 1993, Association of Medical Service Corp Officers since 1994, Fellow of South Dakota Association of PA's since 1996.
Ollivier has been a Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corp of the United States Naval Reserve for the past seven years. He provides medically readiness including complete physical exams and periodic exams on reservists one weekend a month with a detachment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Joe Ollivier, PA-C, R.R.T., lives in South Dakota with his wife and three children. He received his Associate of Arts in General Education from College of Sequoias, Visalia, CA in 1978; Associate of Arts in Respiratory Therapy from Fresno Community College in Fresno, CA in 1985; Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy from California State University, Fresno, CA in 1981; PA Certificate from the University of California-Davis in 1993; and his Masters of PA Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2000.
Julia Elliott is a freelance writer from New York. She is on the Editorial Staff of NEWS-Line for Physician Assistants.