A Carroll County native, Kevin Walsh launched his career as a high school science teacher before going back to school to enter the health care field.
Becoming a certified physician assistant, he first worked in Baltimore City before moving to the Carroll Hospital emergency department in 2014.
In March, Walsh was named Carroll Hospital’s 2019 Advanced Practice Provider of the Year.
The Times recently caught up with him to discuss what it means to him to be so honored, the role of the physician assistant in health care and what he likes about practicing in Carroll County.
Q: You were recently named Carroll Hospital’s Advanced Practice Provider, or APP of the Year for 2019. How did you find out and how did you feel when you learned you were being recognized this way?
A: I found out at the Annual Doctor’s Day celebration that Carroll Hospital hosts. I was completely surprised and honored by this award. It is really special to me to be recognized by hospital leadership, physicians and my fellow advanced practice provider colleagues as APP of the year.
Q: What brought you to Carroll Hospital initially, and what was your education and career path that led you here?
A: I graduated from undergrad with a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a focus in biology. I spent four years teaching high school science then decided to go back to school for a career geared towards healthcare. I earned a certificate and Master’s degree in physician assistant studies.
After completion of that program, I spent the beginning of my career at a great emergency department in Baltimore City. One of my colleagues took a job at Carroll Hospital in the emergency department. Knowing that I was born and raised in Carroll County, she recognized that Carroll Hospital was a perfect fit for me. Shortly after, I started exploring my options at Carroll Hospital.
Q: Tell us about your roles at Carroll Hospital: How long have you been with the team and what does your job entail?
A: I’ve been working in the emergency department at Carroll Hospital since 2014. I spend a majority of my time working in the ED. I’ve been the lead Advanced Practice Provider in the emergency department since 2015. I became a member of the medical staff in 2016 as the APP member-at-large.
In 2017, I was appointed the Treasurer/Secretary of the medical staff and was re-elected in 2018. In addition, I also co-chair the APP Advisory Committee and sit on the hospital’s Bylaws Committee.
As Treasurer and Secretary of the Carroll Hospital staff, I maintain accurate financial records, pay all bills approved by the medical staff, coordinate collection of dues and provide a detailed report of fiscal accounts. As co-chair of the APP Advisory Committee we work in the hospital to increase advanced practice provider presence and participation in the hospital. The goal is to give all APP’s associated with the hospital an opportunity to participate in various committees and groups.
Q: Not everyone understands the history and background of the physician assistant role, even as many people see PAs for care. Can you tell us a bit about the role PAs play in our health care system, and the specific challenges and rewards you see in the role as compared with going to school for an MD, or nurse practitioner degree?
A: The term “Physician’s Assistant” is a very common misnomer. Physician assistants are licensed healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat illnesses, injuries and disease. We can also prescribe medications for patients and perform many common procedures. PAs work in offices, hospitals and various other clinics in collaboration with a physician.
Most PA programs are approximately 26 months (three academic years) and require the same prerequisite courses as medical schools. Most programs also require students to have about three years of healthcare training and experience, or some form of direct patient contact. Students take courses in basic sciences, behavioral sciences and clinical medicine across subjects such as anatomy, pharmacology, microbiology, physiology and more. All PA programs are taught on the same medical model as medical schools.
Certified physician assistants are educated, certified and licensed like physicians. PAs are educated at the Master’s degree level and must pass a challenging national certification exam to become licensed in any state. Certification is designated by the PA-C credential after our names. To remain certified, PA-C’s must earn 100 continuing medical education credits every two years and pass a national re-certification assessment every 10 years.
All healthcare providers are faced with challenges day to day but being able to practice as a physician assistant has been a rewarding experience for me. Here at Carroll Hospital, I play an important role on a healthcare team to ensure safe, effective and appropriate care of patients on a daily basis. I work closely with a great team of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, registered nurses and techs on a daily basis.
There are more than 131,000 certified PAs practicing medicine across the nation in every specialty and clinical setting.
Q: Do you have a favorite aspect of practicing here in Carroll County? Living here?
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A: As a resident of the community, I enjoy being able to care for my family, friends and neighbors. I treat each patient encounter as an opportunity to connect with a fellow member of the community and provide them with a positive ER experience.