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What Does a Neurosurgery PA Do?

As a neurosurgery certified physician assistant (PA), I am frequently asked- what do you do? Michelle and I are thankful to work alongside Dr. Mesiwala who encourages our autonomy. However, he also values daily mentoring and is continuously teaching us. 

Victoria Callahan, PA-C and Michelle Lancaster, PA-C

Victoria Callahan, PA-C and Michelle Lancaster, PA-C

As a neurosurgery certified physician assistant (PA), I am frequently asked- what do you do? Michelle and I are thankful to work alongside Dr. Mesiwala who encourages our autonomy. However, he also values daily mentoring and is continuously teaching us. 

In general, PAs can see patients independently and can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications. Surgical PAs are unique in that they must learn three separate areas of medicine: in-patient, out-patient, and the operating room. 

Surgical PAs must learn three separate areas of medicine: in-patient, out-patient, and the operating room.

Surgical PAs must learn three separate areas of medicine: in-patient, out-patient, and the operating room. 

In-patient medicine consists of providing care for neurosurgical patients in the hospital setting. Either Michelle or I will round daily in the hospital. We most frequently provide preoperative and postoperative medical management for patients. These are either for elective cases or those we were consulted on through the ER as emergent surgical cases. This includes ICU management as well as the medical/surgical floor. 

Out-patient medicine consists of our clinic days. Michelle and I have our own clinics as well as co-clinic days when we are with Dr. Mesiwala. Our clinic schedules consist of new patients, follow-ups, post-ops, and pre-ops. For our practice, most new patients will see Michelle or me first, for the initial evaluation, comprehensive history, and physical exam. In addition, we ensure that all necessary tests and imaging studies have been completed. During this visit, we will investigate if the patient is a surgical candidate. We ensure Dr. Mesiwala has the necessary information to also determine surgical candidacy and what type of surgery is needed. 

We may be biased because of the excellent team we work with!

We may be biased because of the excellent team we work with! 

The Operating Room is the final area of our specialty to focus on. PAs are the first assist to the surgeon on every neurosurgical case for both brain and spine. Dr. Mesiwala will complete the surgery while Michelle or I assist. We anticipate the next steps in the surgery and ensure we do whatever can be done to further make the surgery smooth and efficient. We are also the primary person who performs the closure of the surgery. This is where we perfect our suturing skills!

As PAs, we are often the first contact for our patients. Thankfully our clinics are designed for us to spend a bit more time with each patient and ensure all questions are answered. 

Being a PA is a fantastic career. It’s the perfect mix between autonomy and collaboration. However, we may be biased because of the excellent team we work with!