Emily Harmeier, PA-C – Rush University Medical Center

We see patients with a variety of different
complaints — everything from abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool. If they were to need a procedure, that is
something that’s done by one of my colleagues, so one of the physicians that I work with. In gastroenterology, the biggest procedures
that we’re doing are going to be colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, and then certain more advanced
therapeutic techniques involving the pancreas or the biliary tree. Even though I’m not the one performing the
procedure, I still feel very comfortable talking about it. I know I make the patients feel more comfortable,
especially because getting something like a colonoscopy is certainly not something on
people’s number one to-do list, and it’s oftentimes something that people put off for
that reason. And so, as PAs [physician assistants], I think
we make the patients feel a lot more comfortable before they’re coming in for their procedure,
so that there’s not so much of that fear and anxiety on the actual day of. After they have their procedure, I’m still
that caregiver and the person that’s directing their care. They come back to see me, we talk about their
results, and the next steps in their care. Not every condition in the gastroenterology
world is something that we’re going to be able to cure. Some of these things are lifelong problems. Getting patients to a point where they feel
comfortable managing their symptoms and understanding the appropriate ways to talk to me and what
we can change, that’s what I would deem as success.

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