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Sports Medicine Center - Physician Assistant with Dr. Weeks
How many years have you been a PA?
It will be 7 years this August
How many years have you been a PA with OrthoCarolina?
What made you decide to become a PA?
I had been working as an EMT all through college and graduate school. I then worked in an ER in Boston where I was surrounded by PA’s. At the same time, I shadowed an orthopedic PA and loved how they practiced and how knowledgeable they were. I was also impressed with where the profession was heading.
What is a big challenge in your job?
Work-life balance is arguably one of the biggest challenges. I think as a PA we always want to do everything possible for our patients. We are so excited to care for the whole person from the time we start our education. We also want to help our physician’s practice be the best it can be. The combination can lead to satisfying but long hours. Managing the work-life balance is a challenge that I think most PA’s face.
Trying to make a patient visit fun is a challenge that I love. There is a lot to learn from a comfortable and a happy patient. A trip to the doctor’s office for any reason is often scary. Patients do not want to hear bad news. I love getting patients to talk and tell me their story. It often gets me chatting as well, sometimes too much. But more so, I love getting patients to laugh when they are in my clinic. It’s something that I strive to do with all of my patients and that I love doing. I hope they leave their appointment feeling like it was an enjoyable experience.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The best part of my job and working in orthopedics is the patient process. We often first meet a patient when they are in significant pain and not able to do the things they want to be doing. I love being able to diagnose their conditions. We don’t get to just diagnose, but we also are able to interpret imaging, know the right medications, and be proficient with injections and other procedures. If we do those things and the patient still needs more treatment, we must know the surgery they need and how to do the procedure to be able to explain it to them. Once the surgery is completed with our physician, we also need to know how to rehabilitate the patient. Treating a patient from pain or injury, through their surgery, and seeing them get back to the best they can be, is one of the most rewarding privileges and challenges of medicine.
When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m pretty sure my parents would tell you a professional basketball player or a marine biologist.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself or something that people might not know about you:
I love to travel. I tend to travel off the beaten path and not always to places people have heard of. Any chance I get to travel and see wildlife, I will. Two amazing wildlife experiences standout. The first was cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa. The other incredible experience was camping in a tent through Botswana and Zimbabwe and waking up in the morning to our campsite surrounded elephants and African spotted dogs.
Anything else you want us to know about you or your job: (optional)
I work with the most amazing group of PA’s. We have something really special at OrthoCarolina with over 100 practicing PA’s. They constantly challenge me to be better and I am always learning from them. For the first 5 years at OrthoCarolina I worked as a floating PA before settling in at Sports Medicine. Filling in for our PA’s across many orthopedic specialties was an amazing experience and I was able to learn so much.
I am a huge college sports fan. I have really enjoyed being part of the medical team with Dr. Weeks taking care of Davidson College Athletics. Getting to know these student athletes in the training room, being with them on the sidelines during games, and helping them return to healthy performance has been incredibly gratifying. We have quickly become huge Davidson College fans and take a lot of pride in our Wildcat athletes.
I am an avid runner in my free time and love all things having to do with basketball. One of my other favorite hobbies is cooking. I think my wife would tell you that my cooking is her favorite hobby of mine too!
Jeff Dabkowski, PA-C is a physician assistant at OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Center.
Watch for a new Meet the PA each month and get to know our physician assistants.