Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Hello all! Today we have the pleasure of hearing from Jessica McCarry aka  @sunshinebeautypa on Instagram! Jessica has been out of school and practicing for almost two years now, and here is our interview!

How did you hear about the PA profession/What got you interested in the PA profession?

Interestingly enough I was on the path to go to medical school when I started rotating at various doctor offices for hours. At an internal medicine office I met my first physician assistant and I immediately fell in love. Sad to say I was not familiar with the profession but the autonomy and flexibility of the position intrigued me. I started to research the profession and as I met more physician assistants I realized this was the right fit for me. I love being in an educational environment and I felt that as a physician assistant there were always opportunities to learn and grow while building your own practice. Plus the fact that you can practice in so many facets of medicine was a major selling point for me, I like options.

What specialty are you in right now, how long have you been in it, what do you like about it, what don’t you like about it?

I have been in plastic and reconstructive surgery now for about two years. I must admit, I love it! Truth be told, I was worried I would lose my medical knowledge and that I would not be able to practice what I spent so long learning being in this particular specialty, but I could not have been more wrong. Whether cosmetic or reconstructive, someone’s health dictates their potential outcome and candidacy for a procedure. Medical knowledge plays a vital role in my day to day work life. Working in plastic surgery taps into my creative side and required critical thinking. It’s a perfect combination for me!

What does a normal day look like?

My schedule is split between office hours and surgical hours. I assist in surgery three days a week starting very early in the morning and some times working late into the evening. The other two days are spent in clinic with my own patients and schedule. I mainly perform non-surgical procedures such as injections (Botox, filler, etc.) and other device-based treatments. I also help with pre-ops and post-ops, or any complications that may arise. Contrary to some opinions about plastic surgery, we work hard and long hours! Luckily I leave each day with a sense of accomplishment that makes any 10-12 hour day worth it.

What is the work/life balance like in this specialty?

At first there was an adjustment with the long surgical hours. I was pretty exhausted. But, as time went on I have created a nice work/life balance that works well for me and my family. I am blessed to be in a field that does not deal with a lot of complications and I don’t have to worry about being on call.

Do you forsee burnout in this specialty?

Not for me, no. I think one major consideration for someone interested in this field is work environment. I would not thrive in a work environment where sales and incentives were the top priority. My office’s top priority is the patient and his or her happiness. This makes a huge difference! I know of some aesthetic offices that have had some retention issues with mid-levels due to their income-based prerogatives.

Are you interested in changing your specialty at some point? 
No way Jose!

Advice to PA students for entering the workforce.

Know your worth but stay humble. The things you learn in school are the foundation to your career but once you enter the workforce it’s a completely different animal. Learn when to trust your gut and when to ask for help. Enjoy what you do, if you are unhappy then change. This is an amazing profession so get the most out of it!

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