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Health News: Dan Netherton, PA-C and the important role he plays in healthcare

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This is Health News from Helen Newberry Joy Hospital and Healthcare Center. And today we're talking with Dan Netherton physician’s assistant seeing patients at the Gibson Family Health Clinic. How did you first get interested in healthcare? My mom worked as a nurse for many years. She actually just recently retired. So I kind of had interests growing up in the healthcare field. When I was in college, I started doing some direct care jobs. One of my first jobs was at a camp for adults and children with special needs. So that was a really good experience to just start helping people in a physical way and in a way that they really needed. And from there. I worked on Alzheimer’s unit as a nurse’s aide as my second job. And then after that, I worked in oncology as a patient care tech, which is also a really great experience, and then I kind of moved on up and work my way up and got into PA school and ended up in Newberry. That’s an incredible experience in a field that can sometimes emphasize Hi-Tech over hi-touch. 

Explain your role as a physician’s assistant in primary care. We have the ability to see patients and do their physicals. We can diagnose illness, prescribed medication, and make a treatment plan for that patient. It’s not just about prescribing medication, but there’s much more beyond just that. We can pretty much be your provider in primary care. A physician assistant is really not that different from a physician. That seems to be a trend in more rural settings these days. Is that to help make sure more patients are seen in a timely manner? Yes, that allows us to see a lot more people. With the flexibility that provides really allows for as many patients to get as good of care as possible. 

What’s your favorite part of being a physician’s assistant? Well, the first thing is the variety. I really like being able to see patients for many different things. There’s never a dull take a lot of variety. Another thing that I really like is building relationships with my patients getting to know them over time and seeing my patients improve in their health and become healthier making good lifestyle changes. To see them get better and improve as people and in terms of their health. There’s really nothing that I enjoy more about my job right now. I divvy up my time between primary care and Convenient Care. I really do like doing the Convenient Care as well where I can see a patient, be able to treat that patient, and send them home and feel like today I helped you get better. Another big thing in terms of the primary care aspect is preventive medicine. I really try to promote with my patients the importance of doing those preventative medicine things like colonoscopies and mammograms and coming in and seeing me once a year to have your annual check-in with me to see how things are going so then hopefully we can catch something bad before it happens. That’s very important in primary care. 

COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. What do you tell your patients? We need to continue to take it seriously and take the proper precautions. It is real and is dangerous. We need to just keep taking the proper precautions like wearing a mask and continue to practice social distancing as recommended by the CDC. If you feel like you have symptoms related to the coronavirus like fever, cough, shortness of breath, or things like that, call our hotline before coming in.