27 Years at OrthoCarolina: Q&A with Physician Assistant Mike Long

In 1991 the airbag was invented, the internet became available for unrestricted commercial use and Nirvana's Nevermind album was released. That same year, Michael (Mike) Long began working at OrthoCarolina as a physician assistant. Though he was new to OC, Mike wasn't new to the profession have come off a 20-year career in the United States Air Force as a Pararescueman and PA. 

This year, we celebrated Mike's retirement after 27 years of him being an incredibly valuable member of the OC team. With such a successful career during which he's impacted so many lives, we asked Mike a few questions about being a PA, his fondest memories and the advice he'd give someone who is just starting out.



"I have gone to OrthoCarolina to see Mike Long, PA, for my back problems for 10 years. I found out that he was moving on and I almost cried. I have had such a great experience with this funny and compassionate man all these years." 
-Sheila, patient


Mike Long Retirement Party
After 27 years with OrthoCarolina, Mike Long, PA-C, had a few words to say and lots of hugs to give.

You started your career at OC in 1991. What is special about OC that kept you here throughout the years?

The work atmosphere and environment were extremely receptive to having PAs involved in the delivery of orthopedic care.

As years went by, I witnessed some physicians who were initially skeptical about utilizing PAs, become advocates for our career.

I also witnessed many physicians who set sterling examples of going above and beyond to help patients. That is a contagious trait that reaches out and brings everyone up.



What kinds of interesting things that have happened at OC during your tenure? 

The gradual transition to the one-on-one Doctor/PA team has been fun to watch. We have been utilized in a myriad of ways over the years and the Doc/PA team concept has proven itself over time. The inclusion of PAs into various committees and project planning has been a very welcome change to witness.



What advice would you give someone who has just started their career at OC?

  • Always do what is right and best for the patient. Trust your gut. If ever in doubt, ALWAYS consult your supervising MD or other MD available.
  • Treat every encounter/patient like it was a member of your family or your best friends family.
  • If and when you are having problems or concerns, don't sit on them and let them fester. Go to your supervisors and peers and get things cleared up early on.



What is a memory from your career that you will always look back on fondly?

The patients that have gone out of their way to thank me for the way I treated them and the help I gave them.


The pats on the back and the expressions of respect and gratitude I have received from many of my supervising physicians. It means a lot.



Why do you think the PA field is so unique?

We fill a needed and essential bridge between the PT and the surgeon. Our contribution at OC is palpable. From Call to OUC and just the day to day evaluation and treatment of orthopedic patients in all related subspecialties is stellar. Not only us, but OC as a whole should be very proud of the Physician Assistant force they have accumulated over the years. I am proud to be a part of it.




Comments

October 30, 2018

I've known you for over 40 years now, starting back when you were a Pararescueman. You are one of the kindest, most compassionate people I've ever known. You genuinely care about others. Your patients have been blessed to have you involved in their care, and I'm sure they will miss you immensely. God bless you in all your future endeavors. It is an honor to call you friend.
- Ramona Martin

October 17, 2018

Mike was the best PA. I worked with him a few years ago at Spine he never judge anyone and was always compassionate. He did the best he could for every patient and was very thorough. I know he will be missed by his patient and coworkers. Enjoy your retirement mike.
- Tessa

October 14, 2018

Congratulations Mike!
- Janet Walker

October 13, 2018

Wow, where did the time go❓
- Sharon Stanaland

October 11, 2018

So proud of you Mike!
- Richard Long

October 11, 2018

All the best Mike! Enjoy your retirement Brother. HooYah!
- Chipper

October 10, 2018

Way to go Mike. Glad to hear your retiring. Thanks for being my friend in Albuquerque. Have fun. God bless your retirement.
- Tom Kowell

October 10, 2018

IM PROUD TO CALL YOU A FRIEND, PATRIOT, pararescue brother and werewolf hunter from North Wales.Good luck.
- JOHN LACKEOS

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