Q&A with Physician Assistant Ashley Roberson
Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Ashley Roberson joined Specialty Orthopedic Group as a Physician Assistant and just recently started practicing at the Batesville location that opened on July 11th inside of Panola Medical Center.
She is from Batesville and is the daughter of Michelle Roberson and Clint & Holly Roberson.
She graduated from South Panola High School in 2011, the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in Biology and Psychology in 2015, the University of Mississippi Medical Center with a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2017, and Mississippi College with a M.S. in Medicine in 2021.
What is a Physician Assistant?
A Physician Assistant, or PA, is a licensed clinician that practices medicine in every specialty and setting. We are rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals that are dedicated to expanding access to care and practicing patient-centered, team-based medicine. While PAs are not physicians, we are educated based on the medical model and train in every field (emergency medicine, internal medicine, OBGYN, psychiatry, general surgery, orthopedics, etc.).
Why did you choose to become a Physician Assistant?
At the time, I had been waitlisted for medical school two years in a row. I was growing impatient and thought there had to be a role in the medical field that didn’t require me to be a nurse or a physician, but allowed me to be a practitioner. After much research, I found the PA profession. It is the perfect fit for me and truly one of the best professions for a work-life balance. I get to serve my community practicing the very thing that I am passionate about (medicine, particularly orthopedics) and still have time for family, friends, and traveling.
Where did you go to school to become a PA and how competitive is the program in Mississippi?
Mississippi College, the only school in the state of Mississippi to offer this until recently, is where I received my Master of Science in Medicine in 2021. MCPA is a 30 month program with more than 1500 applicants each year for only 36 seats (there were only 30 seats when I applied) with only half (15 in my class) allotted to Mississippi residents. A typical competitive PA applicant applying to the MCPA program has an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher, 1000 hours of hands-on healthcare experience or 2 years working in the healthcare field, and meets other requirements/recommendations set forth by the program. https://www.mc.edu/academics/departments/pa/admissions/competitive-applicant-profile
What was the process like to get your PA license and what do you have to do to keep it?
After completing MCPA’s 30 month program, I had to sit for the PANCE or Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam that takes approximately 5 to 6 hours and covers every field of medicine from pediatrics to geriatrics. Having passed, I was then recognized as a PA-C and could apply for licensure through the same board that licenses physicians- the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. Once licensed, I then had quite a few more hoops to jump through before being able to practice medicine. The whole process took almost 3 additional months. To maintain this license, I must earn 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years and complete a comprehensive recertification exam every 10 years.
What do you want people to know about your role and what kind of care do you provide?
As a PA, I am just one member of your healthcare team in a team-based approach. I work alongside other healthcare providers (Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physical therapists, nurses, etc.) to provide compassionate care while emphasizing communication and education with all of my patients in order to achieve an optimal recovery and a return to previous activities. I conduct physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose and treat, counsel on preventive healthcare, and prescribe medications if necessary. In orthopedics, I see patients that sustain injuries to bones, muscles, and/or joints, including joint replacement and sports injuries in athletes and weekend worriers. I also spend time first assisting in the operating room!
What do you most enjoy about being a Physician Assistant?
Other than just serving my community, I love being able to split my time between working in the clinic and first assisting in the OR. In clinic, I especially love how patient-focused my training was and how I’m allowed to practice, particularly having more time to spend with my patients during their visit. During surgery, I love assisting the surgeon and suturing the incisions. It is the perfect profession for me!