The NCAPA sat down with two special guests for the July edition of Member Highlights. For this month, we spoke with Physician Assistants (PAs) Jeff LaFuria, PA-C and John Goldfield, MHS, PA-C.
Both are Assistant Medical Directors of the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) and they had much to say about their roles and responsibilities, and how they strive to model the highest standards of the PA profession.
Please note, LaFuria and Goldfield’s views are their own – they do not speak for NCMB or reflect its official positions.
“As PAs, we have a different perspective on patient care, and that is why I think it is important to have representation of both physicians and physician assistants on the Board.”Jeff LaFuria, PA-C
LaFuria: “I graduated from PA school in 1996, and immediately moved to North Carolina. I had the opportunity to complete two of my clinical rotations at Duke University and enjoyed the area so much that my wife, children, and I moved down within a month of graduating PA school. I accepted a position with Carolina Rehabilitation and Surgical Associates and stayed with them just over 16 years as part of a treatment team of providers caring for complex patients with neurological diseases, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and more. My wife and I remain very supportive of the NC Spinal Cord Injury Association. In 2012, I accepted a position at Doctors Making Housecalls, where I spent the last 11 years. Doctors Making Housecalls dealt with a completely different level of medicine than I was accustomed to. Caring for the geriatric population, you’re helping patients toward the end of their lives which is not only challenging, but very rewarding.”
Goldfield: “I started out as a pre-med in undergrad for one semester. One night, I was first on scene of a car accident on a very rural road. It was a bad car accident, and there were a couple people that were pretty messed up. I had some rudimentary knowledge, as my father was a physician, so I wasn’t afraid of blood but didn’t really know what to do. When the paramedics got there, I watched the whole scene and was blown away. It inspired me to take a first responder course, and got me started at the EMT/Paramedic route. As a paramedic, I started interacting with PAs more frequently and knew I wanted to do that. I graduated from the Duke PA Program in 2004. I got a job at a couple of different urgent cares before going and working 6 years in Orthopedics, where I had one of my clinical rotations. Then, I ended up working for Raleigh Emergency Medical Associates at REX ED for 11 years. They’re like family to me.”
Being PAs first, the NCAPA asked both providers to elaborate on how having the “PA-perspective” shapes their role with NCMB.
LaFuria: “As PAs, we have a different perspective on patient care, and that is why I think it is important to have representation of both physicians and physician assistants on the Board. We’re very fortunate in North Carolina to have that. I think North Carolina is on the forefront of utilizing the PA profession when it comes to legal or licensing issues.”
Goldfield: “I love outreach work, I love interacting with constituents, and I love talking with licensees. I love telling people, ‘I’m here for you. I’m a licensee just like you, I’ve seen the challenges and struggles, I’ve been in the trenches, just like you.’ I feel like this role has given me the chance to turn it around and give in a bunch more years back into our profession this way through mentorship and outreach.”
Where do both providers see the PA profession growing in the next five years?
LaFuria: “I would like to see the profession continue to progress and see important legislation pass which will only support the profession more.”
Goldfield: “I am excited to see the strength and numbers grow.”
And when asked if they had any advice for newly graduated PAs, Goldfield stated:
“Having an open mind is the most important part. Be really accepting of all of the information that will be thrown at you. Take certain things with a grain of salt, but also look for wisdom in places that you wouldn’t necessarily think to find it, like different members of the team, other PAs, etc. I remind other PAs that there are lots of places to find mentors. Lean on them.”
Finally, the NCAPA was curious to see what they might be doing instead, if they weren’t currently PAs.
Goldfield: “If money were not a factor, I would want to be an amateur musician, or maybe… a cake decorator. I got really into cake decorating for a while, with music on the side.”
LaFuria: “…I would be retired,” he laughed. “Just kidding. I can’t see myself doing anything different and feel blessed to have had the opportunities I have had through the years. I would also like to add for the PAs reading this, to please feel free to reach out to NCMB with questions. It’s an important resource for the profession and my colleagues, and I welcome the questions and comments.”