Monday, October 4, 2010

National PA Week: Roy Ruehle, Department of Surgery

Wednesday kicks off National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at Sinai Hospital by having them share their stories this week. Sinai Hospital will also host a special breakfast for PAs at 7 a.m. on Wednesday in the Sinai Board Room.

The Life of a Surgical PA
by Roy Ruehle, Sinai Hospital Department of Surgery

I remember when I first discovered what a physician assistant actually was. It was during my enlistment as an Army Medic in the early 1980s. When working alongside PAs during an overseas military deployment in Europe, I decided that this would be a career where I could actually play a front line role in patient care.

After my full-time enlistment was over, I began PA school at Hahnemann University, and later would begin working at Sinai Hospital's Department of Surgery, a role that I've had now for nearly two decades. My role in the Department of Surgery has been ever- changing as requirements and programs within the department have changed.

My role is also a bit different as I was not only a civilian PA at Sinai, but also a senior medical officer in the U.S. Army National Guard. I've served both my community and country, and spent close to a year in Iraq.

When I'm working at Sinai, my day starts off about 4:30 a.m. I begin "rounding" at 5:30 a.m. This is when I see patients, evaluate overnight lab reports, studies, and tests. We prepare the surgical patients for the day's events. Much like the military, we work as a team to fight disease and trauma, and hope to improve the lives of the people who are entrusted in our care. PAs are an important link between residents, attending physicians, patients and families. We are usually working in the front lines of treating and evaluating the needs of those who we serve. As the morning progresses, we are expected to perform a variety of duties from hands-on direct patient care, to ordering vital tests, to going to the operating room. Saving and improving lives, improving quality of life, and always making sure that we always primum nil nocere, which means "first, do no harm."

In addition to our routine care, there are the traumas, which are tragic events that can forever change the lives of the people we see. Our team of physicians, PAs, and nurse practitioners focus our combined skills. We hope to return these victims to the lives and families they had before these tragic events occurred. When you are in the military, these events can be even more stressful, as not only do we have to save a life, but avoid losing ours while helping others. Always remember that freedom is not free, and there are a few men and women that take their turns on the front lines so that we all can live free.

At the end of a 14-hour shift, we are tired, hungry, and sometimes stressed. We return to our own homes knowing that our job is unlike most other jobs. To coin an "Army Theme": It's not just a job, it's an adventure. And this adventure changes every day. We find comfort in our families, have dinner, play with our children. We go to bed, wake up hours before anyone in the house, and begin the next day.

Are you interested in working with Roy and the other PAs at LifeBridge Health? Click here to see our open positions.

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