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Peter Higgins: A Physician Assistant’s Perspective on Healthcare

The first guest on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast is Peter Higgins, a physician assistant from Cherry Hill New Jersey. Peter is a member of Generation X. His field of experience includes family medicine and neonatology.

During this episode of Perspectives on Healthcare, Rob Oliver asks Peter Higgins 6 questions which are the foundational structure of every interview on the podcast. Here are 3 things that stood out during the interview:

  • Peter works in a practice that was started by his uncle over 50 years ago
  • His definition of Quality Healthcare comes from his faith background
  • The importance of self-care in caring for others

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Here is the transcript of “Peter Higgins: A Physician Assistant’s Perspective on Healthcare”:

Rob Oliver: Welcome, welcome to Perspectives on Healthcare, I appreciate you being with me for my first interview. Today I am with Pete Higgins, he is a physician assistant he deals with family practice and neonatology in the Cherry Hill, New Jersey area. He is a gen Xer. Pete welcome to the show.

Peter Higgins: Thanks for having me Rob very happy to be here.

Rob Oliver: Absolutely let’s we’ve got a standard list of questions and let’s jump right into it, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you became involved in health care.

Peter Higgins: So I was somebody, from a young age, that was interested in medicine my uncle is a doctor and the practice I work at now was originally his practice, many years ago. In high school before electronic medical records, I had the job of pulling patient charts there the night or early in the morning before and so he has a physician assistant that has worked there for many years, and I saw what she did and realize that that was the right path for me.

Rob Oliver: Excellent, so it seems like in so many ways, when people become involved in healthcare it starts with a personal connection.

Peter Higgins: For sure.

Rob Oliver: What does quality healthcare mean to you?

Peter Higgins: Well, there is a great biblical principle from the Book of Micah and it’s a question really all about life, what does God want from a person, and the response there is to do justly to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God, and of course that’s direction for all of life, but those three principles are great principles for providing good health care to person to treat them just lead to give them what they need to be merciful to them, most of our health care problems come from failings in our genetics or failings in our habits and just to treat people in a humble way.

Rob Oliver: I love it it’s a fantastic definition, can you give me an example of quality healthcare?

Peter Higgins: Sure. I mean for me personally, what we find very strange is sometimes you really help people and they don’t understand how much you’ve helped them and then there are other times you do relatively little for person and they’re back telling you that you save their life so often the patient perspective may not match reality. But what’s reaffirming or encouraging sometimes when you’ve had to give someone a very difficult diagnosis, you know whether telling somebody they have cancer or I remember a case of telling someone they had that they had HIV. Seeing that patient later and somebody having enough insight to say thanks for the way you handled that that was a difficult thing, but I appreciate the way you handled that with me.

Rob Oliver: That’s got to be… it’s both difficult and rewarding, as you said, in appreciate that, what do you wish people understood about your role in health care about what it means to be a PA.

Peter Higgins: And I wish people understood just how busy a job it is. Our hours are filled with appointments and if you are perfectly on time you filled all those appointments but that’s does not include anytime calling patients responding to other doctors filling out forms reviewing labs and so yeah when you’re with a patient you want to be focused with them but it would be nice if people had the overall view of just how many people you’re trying to help in a day.

Rob Oliver: it’s interesting you’re looking for you’re looking for the patients to have patience with you in some ways, right? What excites you about the future of healthcare?

Peter Higgins: So one of the challenges that is moving in a positive direction is, as I talked about when I started helping in an office, it was before electronic medical records. Since I’ve started the practice I’ve been at for 12 years the program that we’ve used has changed at least four different times and that’s a major disruption to your job, but much of that is moving in a direction where there aren’t too many more changes that can be made so eventually when we get to a place where with electronic medical records where there really is connection to different hospitals and practices and medical history there’s going to be a lot of information that helps prevent mistakes and gives a lot more insight into patient care yeah.

Rob Oliver: And I’m sure that as much as you say that, it gets to a point where it can’t change a whole lot then the next thing becomes security because someone’s going to figure out how to hack the system and hold everybody’s medical information for ransom but that’s a story for another day. What is one thing that medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?

Peter Higgins: So, on an individual level, I think, taking care of yourself it’s just good advice for life in general it’s hard to be a good employee or husband or father. If you don’t have your life in order and again healthcare is a very demanding job, and if you have a lot of other things you’re dealing with in your life it’s hard to bring your whole self into the job, so I think good self, care leads to good health care and finding ways to be yourself and to be helpful to people is good advice for health care providers.

Rob Oliver: Pete Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and to be my inaugural guinea pig on this on this wonderful venture that we’re taking your answers have been insightful and honest and thank you so much for being here.

Peter Higgins: Thanks Rob as you know guinea pigs are very important in the advancement of medicine so I’m happy to be your guinea pig.

Rob Oliver: Appreciate it thanks Pete.

Peter Higgins: Take care.

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