OSC Celebrates Physician Assistant Week – meet Erin Lee, PA-C!

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Erin Profile
Why did you decide to become a Physician Assistant?
Since I was a little girl it was clear to me that I wanted to be in the medical field. I grew up working in my dad’s oral surgery office and I loved helping others. I also loved assisting him in surgery. When a friend recommended a Surgical Physician Assistant Program to me I knew it was a perfect fit. I wanted to be able to spend more time with the patients than a typical physician, but also engage in their post-operative care.

Why did you choose Dr. Mcfarland to work with?
When I first met Dr. McFarland I was very impressed with what he was looking for in a physician assistant. He completed 2 years of a PA program before going on to become a DO and was looking for a physician extender who could have their own autonomy in the workplace. I could tell he was looking for a partner in the office and in surgery. He was also very easy to talk to and down to earth and I knew we would get along well. He takes great pride in his abilities and I could tell all of the staff genuinely respected him.


What is your favorite part of your job in the office? Least favorite?

I love getting to see my own patients in the office. I enjoy problem solving with them and letting the patients be an integral part of their care. I try and help patients decide on a treatment plan that suits their needs best as not all problems have one solution. More than anything I love when a patient comes into a follow-up just to thank me for helping them get well. Being a Physician Assistant allows us to spend more time with patients than a typical physician as we normally see fewer patients in a day. I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families.

My least favorite aspect of the office is complications in general whether it is post-operatively from a surgery we have preformed or they have co-morbidities that don’t allow us to continue their care at that time. I wish that I could help everyone one hundred percent of the time, but unfortunately that’s not the case in medicine. I also hate giving bad news. No one should have to hear that they need to follow-up with an Oncologist or that further diagnostic studies are needed to evaluate for a potential life threatening disease when they make an appointment with us for your typical orthopedic problem.

What is your favorite aspect of surgery? Least Favorite?
I love all aspects of surgery. I enjoy knowing that at the end of a case the patient is going to be able to preform many activities they haven’t be able to in years due to pain. I love that Dr. McFarland allows me to assist in the cases thru dissection, putting in instrumentation and suturing the incisions. I specialized in Plastics during PA School and I love trying to make every incision look perfect for patients. I also enjoy the atmosphere of the OR and interacting with some many intelligent and dynamic people.
My least favorite part of surgery is complications including infections. Fortunately, we have a very low infection rate however it is inevitable. Patients always struggle after an infection and it’s hard for them to ever have a completely normal outcome. It is very hard for the patient and ourselves to not feel frustrated with imperfection however thru different antibiotic regimens and advancements in microsurgery this is not something we have to face very often.

Does your job as a surgical PA make family life challenging?
Any job that requires long hours and stressful daily routines can make life outside of work challenging. I find that having an activity to act as my stress reliever is key. I love to run and work-out so typically after a long and stressful day I always stop by the gym or go for a run to clear my head before returning home. It seems to get me out of “work-mode” and into the right state of mind. It’s all a balancing act and after a couple years I think you are able to figure it out.

What has changed most about your job since your started with Dr. McFarland?
It has changed tremendously over the years. When I first started working I just obtained a history and physical on his new patients and performed his injections. Now I am able to run my own clinic two days a week and see my own patients, which I love. I have also been able to advance my surgical skills over the years. He treats me as his resident and with each proficiency achieved I progress to more challenging tasks. There is never a dull day in this field.