From Ashley Kliewer, PA-C, Director, Advanced Practice
With a foundation built on physician dedication to utilization of advanced practice, advanced practice clinicians willing to take on new opportunities, and the leadership of Eric Zimmerman, PA-C, Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster is a front-runner in full integration of APCs.
Zimmerman attended University of Kansas and completed his physician assistant training at Arcadia University. He has completed the LG Health Leadership Academy in 2017 and currently serves on the Penn Medicine LG Health Advanced Practice Steering Committee. He has worked with OAL for 14 years, becoming the lead APC shortly after starting with the practice. He started by assisting in the operating room, rounding perioperatively in the hospital, assisting in seeing office patients and completing injections.
The practice now has 15 PAs working in expanded roles, which include running the Orthopedic Urgent Care, independently seeing patients in the office, and completing US-guided injections. Rodney Brenneman, M.D., Division Chief of Orthopedics, commented that Zimmerman’s training alongside Dr. Gerald Rothacker gave him the experience and wisdom to teach and grow newer PAs. OAL’s current model of a PA aligned with a given surgeon was built around the model that Zimmerman developed with Dr. Rothacker. Having each APC work with the same physician for OR cases allows the team to develop a routine style and technique, which improves efficiencies. The PA in that team will then see the patient through their diagnosis, which allows for continuity.
Zimmerman’s experience and leadership led to the successful development of the Orthopedic Urgent Care, which is run by orthopedic PAs. They see all orthopedic-related injuries, both acute and chronic, and have streamlined a process for orthopedic treatment: from the visit, to even same-day surgery if indicated, to follow-up with an OAL physician in the office. Joel Horning, M.D., physician lead for OAL’s APCs, states “Eric, along with Rene Battista, PA-C, and Christopher Carrier, PA-C, has been integral in expanding the role of the physician assistant in the office, establishing our Orthopedic Urgent Care and instituting a continuing orthopedic medical education program for the physician assistants.”
Other OAL physician assistants have followed Zimmerman’s leadership engagement and are active in the LGH Orthopedic Program. Hope Weber, PA-C, has served as the advanced practice representative for the Geriatric Fracture Program and has been an integral part of the TAHFT research study led by program director Gregory Tocks, D.O., evaluating tranexamic acid prior to surgery in the geriatric hip fracture population for the reduction of post-operative blood transfusion. Monika Noll, supervisor of the Orthopedic Program, commented, “Not only do the APCs participate in standard annual order set reviews, they actively make suggestions based upon new evidence, identify workflow opportunities, and have worked many hours behind the scenes to improve order set content and functionality. They collaborate with the other physician assistants in their groups to ensure the PAs and their surgeons have provided input and are prepared when order set changes are implemented.”
Zimmerman states that his favorite part about being a physician assistant in Orthopedics is seeing smiles back on patients as they are able to return to an activity they may not have been able to do for some time. Zimmerman is originally from Kansas, moving here after physician assistant school with his wife, with whom he has two sons, ages 10 and 11. He coaches his son’s basketball team and enjoys fishing and hunting. In November, he went on a pheasant-hunting trip in Kansas with his father and brother.