Caring for Her Community Makes PA Role a Perfect Fit for Kristen Alexander

A female physician assistant in an operating room

It’s National Physician Assistant Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the skilled physician assistants (PAs) who provide compassionate, quality patient care throughout the health system.

PAs are licensed and trained healthcare professionals who practice medicine in every specialty and setting – from outpatient offices and urgent care centers to skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.

At South Shore Health, PAs collaborate with physicians in a team-based and patient-centered approach.

Considered a rising star on the inpatient orthopedic surgery team, Kristen Alexander, PA-C has been working as a PA since June of 2022, but she is not new to South Shore Hospital. 

Kristen started out as a nursing assistant in the Emergency Department, but said she knew since college that she wanted to be a PA.

Kristy Jurczak, PAC, lead PA for the orthopedic trauma team, can’t say enough good things about her colleague Kristen, who was recruited right out of PA school.

“We pursued her,” said Jurczak, noting that after completing her PA rotation at South Shore Health, “Kristen was already so good, we knew we wanted her on our team.”

 “She’s a real go-getter and one of the quickest studies I know,” Jurczak said. 

In addition to being great with her patients and procedures, Kristen is always so positive and has a “can-do attitude,” she said.

Kristen shares more about her journey into orthopedics at South Shore Health in this Q & A.

Tell us about your connection to the South Shore

I am local to the South Shore. I grew up in Cohasset, went to UCLA for undergraduate, came back to attend PA school at Bryant University in Rhode Island, and now live in Scituate.

How long have you been with South Shore Health and how did you get your start?

I first started here as a nursing assistant in the Emergency Department in October 2018. I worked here until January 2020, when I began PA school.

During PA school, I did my family medicine rotation at South Shore Medical Center, my Emergency Department rotation at South Shore Hospital, and my orthopedic rotation with South Shore Orthopedics.

During my orthopedic rotation, I did a few days with the orthopedic trauma team and liked the work. When I started my job search, an opportunity opened up with the orthopedic surgery team and I jumped on it. I started here as a new graduate in June 2022.

What inspired you to change roles and become a PA?

When I started in the emergency room as a nursing assistant, I realized how valuable the PA role is to delivering health care.

PAs and all APCs are an integral part of the South Shore Health team and this job allows me to care for the members of this community in a meaningful way.

Can you describe some of the work an orthopedic PA does?

We’re involved with a patient’s care all the way from admission to discharge.  We meet with the patient before a procedure to tell them what is wrong and how we’re going to fix it.

In the operating room, we are an extra set of hands for the surgeon, assist with all aspects of the procedure and often do the skin closure after the surgery.   

We do emergency consults and reductions – it’s a very hands-on role.  We also round on our admitted patients.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of orthopedics and trauma in particular, is that I really feel like I can make a difference and have an immediate impact.

I have the opportunity to reduce a dislocated elbow or assist in the operating room fixing a hip fracture and then see the patient walking with therapy the next day.

I like the hands-on aspect of the job, doing procedures and operating. I also enjoy the variety in this work. There is always something new and different each day.

A female physician assistant poses next to a tree outside the hospital

What do you like best about working at South Shore Health?

The best part about working at South Shore Health is the people!

I get to interact with people across the entire health system, from the emergency room, to the operating room, to the inpatient floor. I also feel very fortunate to work with a great team of orthopedic PAs and attending physicians.

The South Shore is my home, and this is my community’s hospital. This role gives me the opportunity to make an impact by caring for people in my community; I can’t think of anything better.