with Scott P. Sherry, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Physician Assistant and Faculty Member at Oregon Health and Science University
Scott P. Sherry, MS, PA-C, obtained his BS in Emergency Health Services in 1995 from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. Scott is certified as a National Registry EMT-Paramedic. He received his MS in Physician Assistant Studies at Chicago Medical School/Finch University (now Rosalind Franklin) in 2002.
Q: What motivated you to become a physician assistant?
A: Before I became a PA, I had been a paramedic for five years, and at that time, there was not a significant career ladder in my position. I wanted to learn more about medicine and was not interested in an administrative role as a paramedic. I researched and learned about PA schools and the PA profession and felt it was a good fit.
Q: When and how did you start working at OHSU?
A: I started at OHSU in October of 2005. I had an opportunity to do a Physician Assistant Fellowship in Critical Care with the Anesthesia Department. I had a strong interest in surgical critical care and this was a great opportunity to learn in an academic setting. Since then, I stayed on as faculty and recently moved to my current position as a PA in the Trauma ICU with the Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Division.
Q: Typically, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A: My day includes?
• Rounding on patients in the intensive care unit;
• Implementing care plans;
• Performing procedures as needed;
• Ventilator management;
• Following up on labs, radiology, and other reports;
• Providing continuity in the service, as we have fellows, residents, and students rotating through and attending staff changes weekly.
I treat patients with brain injuries to patients with trauma, including multiple orthopedic fractures, blunt trauma, and respiratory failure, predominately. Also, I help provide care for other services whose patients are admitted to the ICU, such as our general surgery specialties and emergency general surgery services.
Q: Are there other areas of interest for you as a physician assistant, either clinically or educationally, that you plan to pursue?
A: I am interested in PA roles in trauma and critical care, education of paramedics and other pre-hospital providers, critical care transportation, trauma systems, and reimbursement for trauma and critical care.
Q: What are the greatest challenges you face?
A: Flexability and adaptability. I think this is very challenging. I need to be an advocate, caregiver, and also help progress care. I need to try to work to help get the patient taken care of in the best manner. I also have to work to help the staff understand what we are doing and how our plans will impact the patient and give them the tools to provide good care.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like the variety, not knowing what is coming. There is lots of variety in patients. I enjoy the trauma patient population and the issues.
Q: Are you currently involved with any research projects?
A: I am currently working on analyzing flight transport times compared to ground transport times in trauma patients.
Q: How do you feel that the role of PAs has changed over recent years?
A: PAs are more prevalent and have an increasing role in healthcare. PAs are also more accepted in the medical establishment and are more involvement in hospital and national organizations.
Q: What do you feel is of the greatest concern to PAs today?
A: Continuing to have a seat and input in the ongoing healthcare delivery structure is a concern.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I enjoy being part of the team and helping to provide good care to the patients.
Q: What is the most important thing you've learned over the course of your career?
A: I have increased my sense of humility and respect for the fragility of life.
Q: What advice do you have for others thinking of becoming PAs?
A: There is a long and sharp learning curve. You must be patient and continue to work at learning what you need. You must be proactive and take initiative to learn and be a part of the team.
Q: How has working in this specialty allowed you to grow professionally?
A: I became part of organizations such as the Society of Critical Care Medicine, which is very open and accepting of PA profession and as a multidisciplinary organization welcomes the input of PAs. I have joined many committees, which has led to more opportunities in shaping how PAs are used in critical care.
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