Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the world of healthcare?
We recently sat down with one of our providers to get a glimpse into a day in her life.
Natalie Gonzalez is a StarMed Physician Assistant who is passionate about chronic disease management and treating acute illnesses. (She also loves her patients!)
So, what’s a typical day like for Natalie? Keep reading to find out!
The first thing to note: There’s no such thing as a “typical” day.
“Working as a provider in a clinic that functions as family medicine as well as urgent care, truly no two days are the same,” Natalie said. “There’s definitely a lot of switching hats throughout the day between patients, for example, knowing if they came for a specific complaint or if we’re following up regarding their diabetes or cholesterol or anything specific like that to family medicine.”
Depending on how she’s feeling each morning, Natalie uses her drive to work to blast the radio and sing along or catch up on one of her favorite medical podcasts.
When she gets to work, she takes a look at what the day ahead has in store for her.
“I always try to log in and look at my schedule first thing to see what it looks like or how many patients are already scheduled for the day,” said Natalie. “But because we do take walk-ins being an urgent care clinic, I always see more than the amount on my schedule. Today, for example, I have 23 patients scheduled. But by the end of the day, I might see a total of 40 or so patients.”
After she looks at her schedule in the mornings, Natalie checks new lab results from previous visits and sends patients notes with her evaluation and next steps. This takes a lot of agility.
“Let’s say we did labs on someone who is already on cholesterol medication, and we see that their cholesterol is still elevated. I have to then decide if I want to change their dosage or switch them to a new medication, or if I need to bring them in and talk about lifestyle choices they need to make,” Natalie explained.
Once she’s checked her schedule and sent out lab results, it’s time to start seeing patients, which means the unpredictability begins.
“It’s really difficult to predict how your day may go, but as long as you come in with a positive attitude, you’ll be fine,” said Natalie. “It can be hard in healthcare, especially since the pandemic. Things aren’t nearly as bad as they were two years ago, but there are still days when it can be hard. I just always remind myself that helping patients is the reason I went into healthcare. And it’s very rewarding.”
No matter how many patients Natalie sees in a day, her priority is to make sure each and every one of them get their concerns addressed.
“I dedicate as much time as I can to each patient to make sure they know I’m listening and here for them,” Natalie said. “Sometimes they’re quick visits and those can be pretty simple. But of course, with my family medicine patients, I definitely want to give them a little bit more time so that I can make sure medications are being taken appropriately, making sure we’re getting appropriate lab work if needed, and then address any other concerns.”
After a full day of seeing patients (and finding time to take a break for lunch), Natalie leaves when the clinic closes at 7. Then she heads home to relax and unwind.
“I usually head home and try to get a workout in as a way to relieve some stress, then eat dinner and relax with my fiancé,” Natalie said. “If I work the next day, I will go to bed as early as I can. But if I have the next day off, I might spend time watching TV and just do my workout the next day.”
That time spent working out, relaxing, sleeping, and taking care of herself is what helps Natalie show up to serve her patients every day. Prioritizing physical and mental wellness should be essential for all providers.
“Making sure that you’re well fed, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of sleep is so important,” Natalie said. “There have been studies showing that providers who are lacking sleep or nutrition don’t do as well as providers who are prioritizing those things in their lives.”
It makes sense, given the unpredictable nature of what each day brings. Providers are spending all day caring for patients, and it’s just as important that they care for themselves.
“I always want to make sure my basic necessities are met. Beyond that, I love spending time with my fiancé and my family — my niece and nephew are so fun. Other things that help me relax are reading, my skincare routine, and I like to get massages every now and then,” Natalie said.