This blog is part of a series highlighting Northwell Health’s Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP). Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their leadership as an individual who exemplifies a Northwell Health value.
When Michael Hanson, a neurosurgery physician assistant (PA), started at Huntington Hospital six years ago, he was joining a team that would grow with his career. What once started as a department of two PAs has expanded to now include nine PAs on the service, ensuring Huntington Hospital has an in-house neurosurgery PA around the clock as it offers 24/7 service to our patients.
Michael was able to play a large part of developing the team by recruiting new team members from practitioners he had worked with in the past. It was a unique opportunity to help build a team based on experience, strong skill sets, and work ethic in an emerging department that excited Michael. This passion for growth and leadership within the neurosurgery team led to Michael being promoted to a senior PA in 2017.
“The work we do as PAs is important and I truly feel it makes a difference,” says Michael, who passionately advocates for the PA profession in his senior role. “We have the ability to both impact patients’ lives and outcomes, and comfort and educate families in their time of need.”
At Northwell, he knows the skills of our PAs are valued and supported with the opportunity to grow within the whole organization even beyond clinical roles. “When I look at the senior leadership in the system and see several PAs holding high-level administrative positions, it shows that the only limitation we have here as ACPs is set by our own ambitions.”
And the invaluable and diverse skills of our PAs was never more apparent than throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With non-emergent surgeries paused at Huntington Hospital, the neurosurgery team joined other teams in the newly created temporary ICUs where they played a vital role in alleviating the pressure of an increased number of critical patients.
“Due to the nature of the disease, we suddenly had an extraordinary number of central lines, arterial lines, and dialysis catheters that needed to be placed on a daily basis,” explains Michael. Working with Dr. Kerr, the chief neurosurgeon at Huntington, Michael helped develop a vascular access team to free up the intensivists from placing these lines so they could instead focus on the patients. The teamwork Michael witnessed made him prouder than ever to work at Huntington Hospital. “Even though we have now returned to our normal roles, you see the people you spent those difficult days with and you have that shared experience that bonds you. The sense of trust and community has never been stronger.”
It’s a sense of community that Michael feels extends to not only his team, but to administration and through the organization as a whole. The Truly Together atmosphere gives everyone a place to have their voices heard and their careers supported. Since starting at Northwell, Michael’s felt his desire to learn and grow encouraged with a variety of resources to accomplish that from the skills lab, to CMEs, to conferences.
“The thing I have come to appreciate most about working for Northwell is the support I have received from the system. The administration has always been not just available, but enthusiastic about doing whatever it takes to elevate the service to impact patient care in a positive way,” says Michael. These resources are something he’ll continue to take advantage of as his career keeps growing. “As one of the largest healthcare systems in the world, the diversity of positions, opportunities for advancement, and resources available to help you become the best ACP you can be at Northwell are second to none.”
Find a PA career that grows with you at Northwell Health when you join the team that the American Academy of PAs designated as a 2020-2021 Employer of Excellence. Apply to one of our PA jobs today!