A Team Approach
The Physician-PA model of care
J. Sybil Biermann, M.D., may be the only orthopaedic oncologist at the Health System, but because she works in collaboration with Physician Assistant Jill Hasen, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Comprehensive Cancer Center are able to help more patients fight cancer of the bone and soft tissues.
Biermann and Hasen treat patients from all over the region and offer detailed treatment plans based on the complexities of soft tissue and bone sarcoma along with many benign disorders of the bone. Hasen sees patients independently in clinic, which allows Biermann to focus on more complex patients, to see a greater number of new patients and to spend more time on academic pursuits. Hasen performs physical examinations, develops treatment plans orders and interprets radiology and laboratory studies. She also assists with every operation.
“Jill and I working together allows for the expansion of services so we can see more patients, do more operations and help a lot more people,” Biermann says.
Physician assistants like Hasen play a vital role in the patient-care process. PAs also allow for an additional level of quality control and patient safety review. Biermann stresses that a PA’s role should allow for expansion of services in a department rather than duplicate the work of residents or faculty.
“The PAs are here long term, whereas the residents rotate,” Biermann says. “Additionally, PAs provide continuity of care. Jill allows our team to function at the level our patients and families deserve.”
The PA profession is currently recognized as the fourth fastest-growing field in the nation, with more than 75,000 PAs practicing in every medical and surgical specialty. The Health System employs nearly 200 PAs in 37 of 65 clinical services, meeting the needs of patients and improving the quality of care throughout the Health System, according to UMHS Chief Physician Assistant Marc J. Moote.
"Physician assistants are committed members of the medical team, and the PA profession is committed to this team approach to patient care," Moote says. "The relationship between a PA and the supervising physician is one of mutual trust and respect."
Hasen says her work is very challenging and intellectually stimulating. “We give each patient the personal attention they need. We have to meet their emotional needs as well as their physical needs. Dr. Biermann has taught me how to clinically evaluate and treat the difficult patient population we manage in orthopaedic oncology.”
Hasen adds that a particularly rewarding part of her job is participating on a multidisciplinary sarcoma tumor board, where care providers meet and discuss sarcoma patients and develop a consensus treatment plan that often includes chemotherapy followed by surgical intervention and sometimes external beam radiation.
The role of each PA varies with training and experience, as well as by department or service, from surgical assisting in orthopaedic surgery and other surgical specialties to inpatient and outpatient roles in general medicine. PAs can focus on primary care, or like the physicians and nurses they work with, they can choose to specialize and devote their practice to the area of greatest interest and expertise.
Written by Beth Johnson
Inside View Editorial Advisory Group
Constance Bridges, Office of the Dean, Medical School
Paula Greeno, Office of the EVPMA
Teri Grieb, MSA Office of Research
Judy Hallberg, UMMS Human Resources
Kelly, UMHS Human Resources
Mark A. Kempton, UMHS Human Resources
Erin Koenigsknecht, UMHS Marketing Communications
Eric Kratochwill, UMHHC Office of the CEO
Allison Krieger, Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Rick Krupinski, Editor, Medicine at Michigan
Alisa Morningstar, UMHS, MFit Health Promotion
Sara Stephens, Safety Management Services
Tammy Nipper, UMMS Human Resources
Juanita Parry, Nurse Recruitment & Retention
Steve Raymond, UMHHC Leadership & Staff Development
Karen Schlueter, Livonia Health Center
Connie Standiford, Medical School Administration
Carole Strong, House Officers Association
Public Relations & Marketing Communications Staff
Michael Harrison, chief public relations and marketing officer
Kara Gavin, director of public relations
Beth Johnson, editor and senior writer
Jessica Soulliere, assistant editor
Geoff O'Connor, Web developer
Shantell Kirkendoll, senior public relations representative
Nicole Fawcett, lead public relations representative
Cathy Mellett, contributing writer
Juliet Fuller, photography coordinator