Originally from Arkansas, Matthew Blakemore did not start out with a goal of pursuing a career in healthcare. He explored jobs in several other industries, including over-the-road trucking, radio broadcasting, construction, and restaurant management. It was not until he was preparing to become a firefighter/EMT that he was told by his family doctor he should consider becoming a Physician Assistant (PA). The thought stuck with him when he was graduating EMT training, the economy went into a severe recession and firefighters were being laid off by the dozens.
The recovery was slow, so he began looking for ways to maintain his credentials before they would expire. After considering other options, Matthew decided it would be the best long-term solution to get his degree and become a PA. He completed his bachelor’s degree in just three years, and then enrolled in Nova Southeastern University’s PA program in Fort Myers, graduating in 2016.
“Following graduation, my first PA job was with an exceptionally busy orthopedic practice in Missouri, where, unfortunately, it was the constant case of overbooked and understaffed,” Matthew says.” I was working 10 hours a day either in the clinic or in surgery, then had to do several hours of patient notes at night before going back early the next morning.” This workload quickly caused burnout and he left the practice to return to Florida.
After taking a brief hiatus with a job outside of healthcare, Matthew took a job in a busy Bariatric & General Surgery Practice in Fort Myers. “I got to learn robotics there, which was great for my career development,” Matthew says. “However, I was supporting four surgeons, had office hours, rounds, and a full workload of inpatient wound care in a separate hospital. I usually ended up working 80-90 hours a week, so, needless to say, the same kind of burnout started to set in.” He left the practice in August of 2020 and signed on with AP Health the following month.
Matthew Finds Balance at AP Health
At AP Health, Matthew works at Holy Cross Hospital and multiple facilities in the Memorial Health System. He assists in a variety of surgical specialties, including orthopedics, bariatrics, GYN, L&D, and neurology.
“I do a little bit of everything, and I like that my job varies,” Matthew says. I may do colorectal surgery one day then bariatrics the next and some orthopedics here and there. I like doing something different every day and being able to advance my skillset.”
“The work-life balance is also much better here,” he says. “I have more time with my wife and kids and get to leave work at work. There’s no coming home after a long day and having to dictate notes for hours at night. Here, I get up in the morning, go to work, scrub in, do surgery, scrub out, and I come home to spend time with my family.
“I also like that we’re essentially paid hourly instead of a set salary,” he explains. “If I work extra, I get paid extra. In my previous roles I would be working plenty of overtime but not getting paid for it, so that fact that we get paid for what we work, makes me feel valued as an employee.
“I say this all the time: this is an absolutely fantastic job and a great place to work,” Matthew says. “It’s even better as a second or third job in your career, because you’ve had the experience of working in the office, doing rounds, being on call and all the paperwork of a typical PA job. Once you have done that, you really appreciate how you are able to work at AP Health.”