As part of our alumni anniversary series, we go all the way back to the first graduating cohort. The inaugural cohort graduated in 1997, which means our featured alumni, Peter Lindbloom, PA-C, will have been practicing for 22 years. Over the course of his PA career, Peter has worked in various practice areas and settings. Peter has been at North Memorial for the past 5 years in Trauma, Emergency General Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care. In his free time, Peter keeps active with his growing family. He has 4 children and 5 grandchildren. Peter precepts Augsburg PA students during their general surgery rotations. The Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants recognized Peter in 2008 as their PA of the Year.
As a freshman at the University of Minnesota in Morris, Peter attended a Sports Medicine Club meeting that had invited a PA guest speaker. Until that point, he was unfamiliar with the PA profession. Peter was an EMT with an ambulance service during his undergraduate years and obtained his paramedic license following his undergraduate studies. His decision to apply to PA school was driven by a desire to have a bigger scope of practice, more stable hours, better compensation and more responsibility in patient care.
Peter worked in family medicine for five years and had a full scope practice, excluding obstetrics. It was a good chance to practice the full breadth of medicine from infants all the way to geriatrics. The practice ran the whole gamut from dermatology to orthopedics. When he first started, it was at the time of health maintenance organizations (HMO) so the practice had a set number of insures. As time went on, there came to be increasingly more time commitments but fewer hours in the clinical workday to complete those tasks. He began a per diem position in a level II trauma emergency department. He subsequently left family medicine to practice emergency medicine full time with Mille Lacs Health System. They had just started staffing the night shift with PAs so that physicians would have the opportunity to sleep and then attend to patients the next day. Peter remembers receiving one of the best compliments while at Mille Lacs. The Chief of Staff at the time noted that since implementing E.D. staffing with full-time PAs, the amount of complaints decreased while the overall quality of patient care increased. Mille Lacs decided to permanently staff its emergency department 24/7 with PAs.
In the years since Peter graduated, there is significantly more access to information. He says that many students are not aware of how quickly, almost immediately, information can be available. Students should proactively be reading and staying up to date on the latest in technology and medicine.
Peter advises soon to be graduates to not sell yourself short! The nature of your clinical education is to give you a well-rounded experience. These rotations are an opportunity for both yourself and the health system to “kick the tires” and see if this might be a good fit. Often connections made during a rotation, or a preceptorship, can lead to a job, even if it is years down the road. For example, a mentor had called Peter to start up an emergency general surgery service at North Memorial 17 years after he had completed an elective rotation at North Memorial in Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.
The nature of healthcare is quickly changing. In the coming years, health systems will be grappling with the aging baby boomer population as well as a physician shortage, among other healthcare factors. Due to these pressing issues, the PA role may further evolve and develop. Peter notes that it is still up to PAs to recognize and understand their limitations while employers demand more autonomy of PAs. The practicing PA needs to be confident yet humble enough to ask for help when necessary. He would encourage PAs to develop expertise in a specific area and be the “go to person” in their practice for questions in that area. This is value added to the health care team and benefits the patient. Pete says “we can’t lose focus of patient care. While patient satisfaction is the buzzword, we need to be evidence-based and measure outcomes all the while providing quality, cost-effective care.”
Healthcare is a team-based profession and there are various avenues to realize a career in this field. It is detrimental to the team to speak ill of another profession. When we recognize the value and merit of each health profession, the team succeeds and so does the overall care of the patient.