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Neurosurgery physician assistant dedicated to treating veterans
SAN ANTONIO -- Julie Dylla, PA-C, began working at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital as a nurse’s aide during her senior year of nursing school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. After earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing, she was hired there as a registered nurse in surgical intensive care.
Dylla worked for eight years as an RN in the veteran hospital’s surgical intensive care unit and then two years in the ear, nose, and throat clinic. “Although I enjoyed my career as a nurse, I decided I wanted to do more. I wanted to be trained in a medical model. I liked the idea of working with a physician. That is why I decided to become a physician assistant.”
In 2000, she returned to school and ended up in the first graduating class of the Physician Assistant Studies program at the Health Science Center.
“At that time, one or two civilians were allowed to participate in the Army physician assistant program at BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center). Congressman Frank Tejeda had worked with the military to allow civilians to fill one or two empty slots in the military class. He was trying to help rural areas get much-needed health care by providing PAs from San Antonio,” Dylla explained.
Dylla, who was the president of that initial PA class, graduated as a physician assistant in 2002 and has been employed ever since in neurosurgery at the VA.
“In my role as PA, I take calls at any time and seek consults in the emergency room and in the wards,” Dylla said. “I am the first to meet the patient and then decide if a neurosurgeon needs to be called in. The patient sees me before and after surgery. I also perform first-assist duties during surgery.”
The VA neurosurgery department sees veterans from south of Temple to Brownsville. Dylla said she is at a point where she can teach what she has learned. “I am training residents and having PAs shadow me so they can learn about neurosurgery and decide if this is what they want to study. I believe the next step in my career will be in education.”
The Health Science Center is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its PA program. The physician assistant program is now a 26-month master’s program with 12 months in the didactic (classroom) phase and 14 months in the clinical (hands-on patient care) phase. The class size is limited to 40 students each year.
J. Glenn Forister, M.S., M.P.A.S., PA-C, physician assistant chair, said the program is helping to serve the health manpower needs of San Antonio and South Texas.
“Although some graduates work in specialty practice, more than half are working in primary care and approximately one-third are working in medically underserved areas,” he said.
For news from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, visit http://www.uthscsa.edu/hscnews/newsrelease.
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