Oct. 6-12 is National Physician Assistants Week

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dena Pozeg, PA-C, wanted a career where she could help people and feel like she was making a difference in their lives. That’s why she became a physician assistant (PA). She is one of the 54 physician assistants at WVU Healthcare whose work is being recognized as a part of National Physician Assistants Week (Oct. 6-12).

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), physician assistants are health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive healthcare, assist in surgery and prescribe medications.

“PAs are trained to work within a team in conjunction with others. I really like the idea of a team effort,” Pozeg said. “PAs are also trained to be an advocate for the patient and normally have a little more time to spend with patients than the physicians, since they act as an extension of them.”

Pozeg works as the chief PA for the section of trauma and critical care surgery, where she goes to traumas, takes care of inpatients, does consults and sees patients in the clinic. She also acts as the primary contact for patients who have been discharged and call with needs, including answering questions or calling in refills for prescriptions.

Working in trauma is never the same as the day before, Pozeg said, and that’s one of the reasons she chose to pursue that specialty.

“Our patients are significantly ill or injured and most times ‘fixable.’ It gives me a great feeling to see patients in the outpatient clinic after their hospital course and know that I have helped them progress back to their normal lives,” she said. “It’s a really great feeling to see someone walk when they were unable to before or see someone who previously had a traumatic brain injury improve and return to school or work. Trauma just makes me feel that I can touch the lives of so many that need help.”

Alison Wilson, M.D., director of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center and chief of trauma and critical care surgery, said physician assistants are vital to the continuum of care for both inpatients and outpatients.

“Physician assistants are an integral part of the healthcare team,” she said. “Their roles are developing and expanding. They will be essential to the success of healthcare in the future.”

For more information on physician assistants, see www.aapa.org

For more information on WVU Healthcare, see www.wvuhealth.com.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 10-04-10