Ilaria Gadalla, DMSc, PA-C, is a physician assistant at Treasure Coast Hospitalists in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and serves as the physician assistant department chair/program director at South University, West Palm Beach, Fla., where she supervises more than 40 PAs, medical directors, and administrative staff across the South University campuses.
Ms. Gadalla is the chair of SHM’s NP/PA Special Interest Group, which was integral in drafting the society’s recent white paper on NP/PA integration and optimization.
She says that she continuously drives innovative projects for NPs and PAs to demonstrate excellence in collaboration by working closely with C-suite administration to expand quality improvement and education efforts. A prime example is the optimal communication system that she developed within her first week as a hospitalist in the Port St. Lucie area. Nursing, ED, and pharmacy staff had difficulty contacting hospitalists since the electronic medical record would not reflect the assigned hospitalist. She developed a simple contact sheet that included the hospitalist team each day. This method is still in use today.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a physician assistant?
I worked as a respiratory therapist and had a desire to expand my knowledge to manage critical care patients. I applied to Albany (N.Y.) Medical College, where I received my PA training. I knew before PA school that I was passionate about the medical field and wanted to advance my education and training.
How did you decide to become a PA hospitalist?
From day one at my first job, I knew that I loved inpatient medicine. I had a unique position as a cardiology hospitalist in Baltimore. That was my first experience working in hospital medicine. As a team of PAs, we worked closely with hospitalists in addition to the cardiologists. I really enjoyed the acuity of hospital medicine, and the brilliant hospitalist colleagues I worked with. They fueled my clinical knowledge daily, and that really drew me further into hospital medicine.
What is your current position?
I have a unique position. I work primarily in an academic role, as a program director and department chair of the physician assistant program at South University in West Palm Beach. I provide oversight for four PA program campuses located in Florida. Georgia, and Virginia. I also work clinically as a hospitalist at Treasure Coast Hospitalists in the Port St. Lucie area.
What are some of your favorite parts of your work?
My favorite aspect within the academic environment is what I call the “lightbulb moment” – that instant when you see your students comprehending and applying critical thinking regarding patient care. In clinical practice, I really enjoy educating and navigating a patient through their diagnosis and management. It’s like teaching, in that a patient can also have a lightbulb moment.