We spoke with our physician assistant, Raquel Salazar PA-C, to learn how physician assistants contribute to the field of ophthalmology and important lessons she has learned throughout her career.
1. What is a physician assistant (PA)?
A physician assistant is a nationally certified medical professional. We can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicine. We work collaboratively with physicians to help them see their patients.
2. What are the advantages of being a physician assistant?
Physician assistants have better work/life balance than MDs. Our role is fast-tracked. There is always a need for PAs.
3. What is your favorite hobby?
I love to run! I’m running the Chicago Marathon again this year. It is my second time. My goal is to run the Rock ’n’ Roll Half-Marathon in San Francisco, CA. It’s the only half marathon that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.
4. What was the last movie you saw?
Sing, the Pixar movie. Piggy power!
5. What would your best friend say about you?
My best friend would say that I am stubborn. She would also say that I am someone she can always depend on; I’m reliable.
6. What are you truly passionate about?
I’m passionate about helping others. I want to make sure everyone has their basic needs addressed. I often donate my time and money to homeless programs and services, and local food banks, such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
7. What is your most memorable patient experience?
I had a patient in her twenties with Stage IV breast cancer. She was a single mother with four children to provide for. Close to the holidays, she had discovered that Medicare was no longer covering vital components of her treatment. This was a huge financial detriment. My department and I decided to rally funds to purchase holiday gifts for her and the children. It felt wonderful to help her family and see her smile.
8. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement?
When I worked at Loyola University, I was able to implement the endoscopic vein harvesting surgical technique. This helped reduce infections in the leg dramatically. Endoscopic vein harvesting is a minimally invasive procedure that involves a small incision at the knee rather than the traditional harvesting that requires a long incision down the entire leg to remove the vein for use during bypass surgery.
9. What is your favorite Motto or personal mantra?
Love each other as I have loved you - John 15:12
10. What are three important lessons you’ve learned in your career thus far?
- To communicate effectively.
- Treat others as you would like to be treated, regardless of rank or positions.
- Disagreement is okay, as long as we have the same goals and work together as a team.