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Q&A: Local Physician Assistant Weighs In on The Healthcare Position That’s Here to Stay

A quick Google search of your ailment’s symptoms can warrant dozens of potential diagnoses: some reasonable, some not so reasonable. There’s an abundance of medical information out there, but it’s clinicians like Brittany Czarick, a physician assistant specializing in ears, nose and throat at Jefferson Hospital, who are pointing patients to sound, reliable resources. To make sure she’s always available — be it in surgery or at her patient’s bedside — she relies on her Subaru Forester.  That way, she spends more time treating her patients at work, and less time worrying about getting there.

Today, Czarick shares the one fact she wishes people knew about physician assistants and the four-legged (very cute) reason she opted for a Subaru.

What does your day-to-day work entail as a physician assistant?

My day to day work is based in the hospital, caring for patients in the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) service here. My day begins with patient rounds with the resident physician and then the majority of my day is spent handling the pre- and post-operative needs of our patients, including any acute issues that arise with them, patient and family education, and discharge planning.

A lot of our patients have undergone major cancer and reconstructive surgery, so their post-operative care is quite complex. And then I also spend time in the operating room.

Do you have a specialty or work with specific kinds of physicians? If so, which ones?

The technical term is otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. And so the specialties within our field — there’s a big variety — and they include head and neck cancer, thyroid diseases, facial plastic surgery, rinology and sinus disease and also disorders of swallowing and voice.

What’s the most exciting aspect of your job right now?

For me, the most exciting part of my job is having the privilege to work here at Jefferson and to work with some of the most intelligent and caring surgeons, as well as other physician assistants, nurse practitioner colleagues, our wonderful nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists and all of the ancillary services here. It’s really true that I learn something new every day from people throughout the entire spectrum of our healthcare team here. On a daily basis, I have interaction with all of them.

Do you have any pre- or post-work rituals to help start your day or wind down?

My mornings are basically spent getting ready for the day. We have a dog; here’s a four-year-old husky-lab mix and I take him for a walk every morning. He requires a lot of exercise!

After work, I try to exercise most evenings. That’s my wind-down time. For the least year and a half, I’ve been taking barre classes at a local yoga studio. I enjoyed it so much that in November, I underwent training to become an instructor and now I teach two classes a week. A lot of my commute home is spent listening to my playlist and planning out my classes for the week.

What model Subaru do you drive?

I have a 2013 Forester.

Why Subaru? How has your Subaru made your life easier?

Actually, the first Subaru I had was an Impreza and that was before we got our puppy and what attracted them to me initially was just their reputation for being reliable and safe. So, once we got our dog, and our dog started getting bigger, we quickly realized we were going to need something bigger. And that’s when we traded it in for the Forester.

It’s been great. My family lives in Massachusetts and that’s where I’m originally from, so my husband, my dog Bowie and I travel there often. It’s been nice to have a car with lots of room and I know I can rely on it to get from here to there safely.

Are you involved in any of Jefferson Hospital’s community initiatives? If so, which ones and why are they important to you?

Through my department, a lot of what we do is try and educate others about the care of our patients because it is so unique. My colleagues and I often reach out to home care agencies that are taking care of our patients and rehab facilities and we provide educational sessions on the ins and outs about the care for our patients.

Which changes in healthcare are you most excited about? How are they applicable for your role?

The first thing is that there have been a lot of efforts to improve access to healthcare for patients and making it affordable and accessible for everybody. As we continue to do that, the role of physician assistants and nurse practitioners is only going to expand. And it’s exciting to know that this profession is only going to continue to grow and it’s going to be very stable for years to come because we know we’re going to be needed.

Another really exciting thing is that there has definitely been a shift toward involving patients in their own healthcare, and make doing so easier for patients. I think that is important for our role, too, because we often serve as a patient advocate because we’re the ones that spend a lot of time with patients in the hospital, so we’re helping to bridge the communication with the physician and the patient.

What is one thing people might not know about physician assistants?

The main thing and it might sound kind of funny is that although our patient has been around for quite some time, a lot of people don’t even know what a physician assistant is. If I had the opportunity, I would just want people to know that we’re licensed medical practitioners who practice under the supervision of a doctor, we prescribe medication, order testing, diagnose and treat medical problems. We’re masters-prepared clinicians and we provide excellent care to our patients.

Has there been a moment where your career in healthcare and being an owner of a Subaru has intersected?

There are very safe, reliable cars. I certainly never worry. It’s so nice to know that if it’s snowing or if there’s some other weather-related thing that others might worry about getting to work, I know that my car is reliable and I don’t have to worry about that. [And that’s great because] we’re needed to be here: good weather or bad weather.

For more information about finding the right ride for you, visit Subaru, here.