Surgical Training for Neurosurgical PAs

Last week I had the privilege of attending a surgical training in San Francisco, California. The event was created by the Association of Neurosurgical Physician Assistants (ANSPA) in conjunction with Ethicon. I must say it was a fantastic experience. I was able to spend a half a day in a live porcine wet lab. The lab was for PAs only so it enabled me to spend more time with the surgical instruments and take the lead on certain aspects of the surgeries that we performed - both opportunities that I don't necessarily get on a day to day basis. It was successful in building my confidence.

We performed a craniotomy and tumor removal as well as a laminectomy with a focus on hemostasis. This is an unusual experience and I learned a great deal from both the PAs that attended and the Ethicon reps regarding hemostasis products. I had the least amount of surgical experience of all the PAs that were there (9 months), however all of the PAs were friendly and helpful and I learned quite a few new techniques. It was also inspirational to see what other PAs around the nation were doing as part of their daily grind. It ranged from PAs that spent the majority of their time in the OR as co-surgeons to those that split their time 50-50 between OR and floor work.

I was able to meet and spend some time with Josh, a neurosurgical PA for over 10 years, who is the current president of ANSPA. The AAPA recently completed a video on him and his contributions to his neurosurgical practice. The surgeons that he works with on a daily basis speak very highly of his surgical and patient skill sets. Mike Nido, PA-C and Dean Barone, PA-C were also instrumental in making this event happen.

All in all, hats off to ANSPA for working hard to make this happen for PAs. They hope to create more of these learning opportunities for neurosurgical PAs in the near future. If you are not a member, I highly encourage you to do so if you're interested in neurosurgery as a physician assistant.

*Disclosure: I am in no way financial tied to Ethicon. Just attended the event.

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