I practice as a physician assistant with two busy orthopedic surgeons. We work as a team in order to get everything done and to provide high-quality care to all our patients. Every day contains a wide variety of work which keeps me on my toes. I love the operating room. However, my favorite part of my job is the relationships formed with patients as we follow them through surgery. Below is a day in the life of an orthopedic surgery PA.
8:15 AM: Morning prep-time
I arrive at our orthopedic office. I check for patient messages who called during the night. There was a gunshot wound to the arm that came in overnight. This will need surgery to repair the shattered arm. My supervising physician and I coordinate for a 4:00PM start time in the operating room. We proceed to clinic for the morning. My physician and I have our own schedules, share the same clinical support team, and see patients side by side in the clinic.
8:30 AM: Clinic
My first patient arrives. A brief history is gathered and an x-ray is obtained. The patient is here for back pain. Within our practice, I manage the Spine Clinic. I evaluate and treat all spine complaints until a surgery consultation is needed. 8:45 AM: The next patient is ready, a young new patient with knee pain. This teenager had an injury while playing sports. After an x-ray is performed, I complete a physical exam. I immediately think, torn ACL. An MRI is ordered and I schedule the patient for a follow-up with my supervising surgeon. Surgical consultations and high complexity cases are managed by the physicians in my clinic. I evaluate new patients. But if their condition requires surgery, I fast track the patient to the surgeon’s schedule.
9:00 AM: Clinic procedure
My next patient is coming in for knee injections prior to having a total knee replacement. I perform joint injections on all of my supervising physician’s patients, enabling the physician to evaluate more new patients. This system improves access to care for all new patients who are waiting for orthopedic evaluation. I continue seeing patients in clinic until noon. 12:00 PM: My supervising physician and I sit down to go over all the patients in the hospital who are on the orthopedic surgery service. We divide and conquer the list and decide which patients each will be seeing.
1:00 PM- 2:30 PM: Inpatient hospital rounding
I round on the hospital patients as my physician goes back to the office to finish the remainder of clinic. I check on all the patients who had surgery with us during the week. We have a few postoperative patients in the hospital. There is a new orthopedic consult for a superficial infection to the ankle. I evaluate the patient. This is an interesting case. The patient has a complicated medical history which may have contributed to the infection. I prepare for an incision and drainage procedure to the ankle at bedside around 3:30PM after speaking with the surgeon.
3:30 PM: Hospital procedure
I report the progress of all our postoperative patients and fill the physician in on the new consult. I assist my surgeon on a bedside incision and drainage of the ankle before the afternoon surgery.
4:30 PM-7 PM: Operating Room- Trauma case
Normally my day ends at 5:00 PM. Today, I chose to stay for the trauma case because I knew it would be an interesting surgery. As soon as the incision is made, I realize this is going to be a difficult case. The bullet is close to a main artery, radial artery, supplying blood to the arm. The radial artery is identified. It is bigger than I remember. The fracture site is then plated with a metal plate and 6 screws are drilled to secure the plate to the bone. We were able to remove part of the bullet. The remaining parts of the bullet will have to stay as it was starting to become unsafe to continue operating. 7:15 PM: The day is done. All our patients have been taken care of and the trauma operation went well. The best part is that while the gunshot victim may have remaining bullet fragments, he should have normal use of his arm. All in a day’s work.