North Carolina PAs dedicated to patient health while leading the way for the profession.
Claire Simmons-Valenzuela, PA-C, was born in Jacksonville, Florida and moved to North Carolina in 2008 to attend PA school. She graduated from the Methodist University PA program in 2010 and continues to live in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, two children, two dogs, and ten chickens. Claire practices at Legacy Pediatrics in Fayetteville and is planning on taking the specialty certification exam in 2021. She hopes to focus solely on pediatrics for the duration of her career as a PA.
When Claire worked in a specialty clinic and found that she often didn’t know the referring providers, she sought out a local chapter to network with fellow PAs. The NCAPA regional chapter in her area had been through many iterations over the years and was not active at that time. Claire and several other local PAs worked together to restart the local chapter, now known as the Sandhills Association of Physician Assistants (SAPA), where she has served as Treasurer for several years.
A few years ago, when Claire worked at a clinic specializing in Pain Management/Physical Medicine and Rehab, PAs were unable to sign handicap placards. Seeing “NCAPA advocate at the state level to allow (PAs) to sign this simple document, impressed” her and improved her day to day practice. She hopes to the see the PA profession continue to grow and to see OTP fully implemented in the future. As a Fellow member, Claire has watched “NCAPA work hard to improve our ability to do those day to day tasks and to keep our profession competitive with other medical practitioners” and thinks that “NCAPA will be vital in this evolution, and (NCAPA’s) work will ensure (her) ability to practice medicine for a very long time.”
When asked what she loves about being a PA, Claire reports:
“I have enjoyed the ability to change jobs and even specialties while continuing to learn. I found my niche with Pediatrics and love watching children grow up, helping and teaching parents care for their children, and building relationships with families. To see their personality develop over the first few years of life is very special. It can be difficult to watch the high schoolers age out of our practice, knowing that I may never see them again, but it is very rewarding to see them develop into someone with their own goals and dreams.”
Claire opened a Pediatric Urgent Care in Fayetteville with two of her colleagues, finding the business side of medicine an interesting new challenge. She also precepts Methodist PA students during pediatric rotations, finding teaching fulfilling, as she continues to learn from her students as well. As Claire states, “There is more to being a PA than seeing patients.”
Thank you for doing so much more and helping to lead the way, Claire!