PAs play an integral role in the global management of cardiothoracic surgery patients, including all aspects of peri-operative care from performing patient histories and daily rounds to invasive surgical procedures, including the critical retrieval of vascular tissue in coronary bypass procedures.
CT PAs often fill the role as first assistant and primary care PA on all adult and pediatric cardiac cases. They also exhibit extensive knowledge of artificial cardiac devices, ventilators and the pharmacologic effects of vasoactive/cardiotonic drugs. Most CT PAs work 50-60 hours each week, providing patient care expertise in the postoperative acute care units, step-down units and regular floors.
As the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery continues to evolve, the flexible and adaptable nature of the surgical PA will be an essential element for every successful practice.
Highly technical and demanding skills are mastered through years of physician assistant practice, master degree and post-graduate surgical residency.
Duties & Responsibilities
- Performs patient histories and physical exams
- Handles daily patient rounds (including the CVICU), patient education and discharge summaries
- Performs invasive procedures, such as thoracenteses, chest tube insertions, placement of central venous, dialysis and Swan-Ganz catheters, arterial lines and intra-aortic balloon pumps
- Exhibits autonomy in the operating room when required
- Retrieves vascular tissue, including greater and lesser saphenous veins and/or radial arteries, for use as a bypass conduit
- Often uses endoscopic retrieval methods and involved in the industrial aspect of EVH
- Performs first assistant duties on all adult and pediatric cardiac cases, thoracic and major/minor vascular cases
- Meets the specific needs of the attending surgeon, often assisting several surgeons in a single practice
- Has exacting knowledge of each surgeon's idiosyncrasies to expedite the procedure and limit patient morbidity and mortality
- Uses knowledge of medical model to promote synergistic relationship between physician and PA
- Has extensive knowledge of the pharmacologic effects of vasoactive/ cardiotonic drugs, ventilator management and artificial cardiac devices
- Performs duties of a primary care PA
- Manages other disease entities frequently encountered in the cardiac population, namely hypertension, diabetes, COPD, asthma, hypothyroidism and others