Patrick Willett, PA-C, MDSc, Drawn to Professional Independence at AP Health

After 10 years working as a Physician Assistant (PA) with different physician groups, Patrick Willet, PA-C, DMSc, decided he wanted to be in an environment that offered professional independence and growth- that is what brought him to AP Health.

Early Attraction to Healthcare Field

Growing up in Maine, Patrick knew he wanted a career in healthcare from an early age. After shadowing his family physician PA, as well as practitioners in other fields, he decided to pursue a career as a PA because of the capability to explore multiple specialties and opportunities, a characteristic incredibly unique to the APP field.

Patrick received a master’s degree from Keiser University’s PA program and took a job working for a physician group where he focused on orthopedic surgery and pain management.

“My first job gave me the opportunity to get experience in the clinical world, then slowly get my feet into the OR,” Patrick says. “I fell in love with the surgical pathway; I enjoyed the postoperative care, rounding in hospitals, and was able to transition away from more of the clinic work.”

Patrick then went to work for a large orthopedic group, serving in a pool of PAs. There, PAs rotated duties for clinic, rounding and surgery. The ratio of physicians to PAs required on-call duties every six days and weekends every six weeks.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of weekends being on call, but it was literally 24-hour coverage Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which became overwhelming,” he explains.

His next job was working directly for an individual physician in more of a one-on-one relationship. In that role, he and the physician shared clinic, rounds and call.

“That job offered more responsibility, but the hours were long and only got longer,” Patrick recalls. “I was in a salary-based structure, and after a while, I looked at the number of hours and the late nights I was working and felt undervalued. Career growth is very important to me, and I started feeling like my growth and compensation were plateauing.  This is when I decided to go back to grad school. I felt like PAs were underrepresented in healthcare leadership positions, so I wanted to enhance my opportunity to grow.

Patrick earned a doctorate in healthcare administration and leadership from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah Not wanting to completely leave clinical medicine, he found an opportunity at AP Health that provided the right balance. At AP Health, Patrick is our Director of Clinical Services, specifically for the Palm Beach region. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operations in the ORs, manages the team of providers, and helps seek out new opportunities for business development and growing our market in that area.

“There are certain weeks when I’m in the OR 3-4 days because of coverage needs, but my main role is to make sure our people are positioned properly, our surgeons are happy, and our hospital customers are satisfied with the services they receive from us.”.”

Patrick Likes Professional Independence Offered by AP Health

“As part of my job, I get to talk to a lot of practitioners who are considering coming to AP Health,” Patrick says. “One of the biggest things I hear is that they are being burned out in their current positions. They’re overwhelmed from covering clinic, the OR and call. They hate coming home at night and doing two hours of EMR, making sure their notes are complete and reviewing labs. They feel like they are being asked to work harder and harder, yet they are stuck in a salaried position with often unattainable productivity bonus structures. This usually happens after about six years in the profession.”

Patrick says what they find attractive at AP Health is the transparent compensation and benefits structure that gives the practitioner more control over their work and life.

“It’s kind of an ‘eat what you kill’ approach,” he explains. “If you want to work more and make more money, we have that. If you need to dial it back for whatever reason, we can accommodate that. If you want to focus on certain specialties, we offer that, as well. The pay structures and bonus structures are very straightforward and appealing.

“I think advanced practitioners, especially those with some experience, are looking for the kind of professional independence that we offer,” Patrick says. “They want to have more say in how their life and work are structured. Having that independence avoids burnout and improves retention. I know that my mental health has improved, and my stress levels are far better than they were before, as I feel more in control of my personal and professional ambitions. I hear the same from practitioners who have joined AP Health.”