Do you know that Wapiti CEO Kim Herrmann is also a practicing physician assistant? Her experience as a PA has proven to be a valuable asset to Wapiti. As someone who serves on the frontline of healthcare, Kim understands the challenges faced by both healthcare facilities and medical professionals.
We recently sat down with Kim to discuss what the PA profession has meant to her. Below is our Q&A from that conversation. Describe your educational background and work experience related to being a PA.
I completed my undergrad studies at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and then went to the University of South Dakota (USD) for PA school. I worked in general surgery for roughly the first 5 years and then in the ER for around 18 years. Although I no longer work full-time as a PA, I do pick up occasional shifts as a locum tenens practitioner. Why did you want to become a PA?
My mom was a nurse. I knew I wanted to be in medicine from a young age. I applied for early admission to med school after doing 2 years of undergrad. I was 19. They told me to finish my degree. I took that as a sign that I was not supposed to be a doctor and applied to PA school. I was accepted and the rest is history. I consider becoming a physician assistant to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I love every minute of being a PA. What has been the most rewarding part of being a PA?
Being able to help patients. I love making connections, hearing the patients, and being able to solve their problems, calming a child, fixing a wound, and just being there in a time of crisis. After a while, you feel very comfortable running to an emergency because you know you can help. I love reassuring patients and helping them understand their medical problems in a simpler way. What are some of the challenges?
Honestly, when you are in medicine, you have the privilege of connecting with patients in an intimate way. With that comes empathy for the hurt, pain, suffering, and death that people and their families experience. It is challenging to see a problem that you cannot fix because it is not fixable or because the patient doesn’t want to fix it. How has the PA profession changed since you first started your career?
It continues to evolve. PAs are respected members of the medical team and they continue to advance themselves in ways to be increasingly useful as the physician shortage continues. What are some of the things you like most about working as a locum PA?
I love the ability to see and meet new people and enjoy seeing different work environments, different cultures, and experiencing little towns all over the Dakotas. I am always impressed by the close-knit team that develops in a small-town hospital, clinic, or ER. There is a connection there—they have seen a lot together, and they depend on each other. It is the epitome of teamwork.Thank you to Kim and all physician assistants for the value you bring to healthcare!