Salus Young Alumni: Emily Weber Parker, MMS '09 PA-C

One of the real dilemmas facing many of our young alumni is what to do when planning a family. Should you work part-time or full-time or not at all? It’s an issue that is played out in homes across the country, not just in those belonging to Salus graduates. This is a highly personal and subjective matter only settled by the persons involved. A Salus alumna who made the choice to work part-time for now shares her experiences.

Also a member of the inaugural physician assistant class, Emily Parker worked full time in family practice from October 2009 to January 2014. In her first job, she gained invaluable experience working with a diverse patient population ranging from young families to retirees. After that, Ms. Parker began working at another family practice where the patient population was predominantly older adults in a rural setting.

After the birth of daughter Lillian Grace in September 2013, Ms. Parker made the decision to go part-time at the end of her twelve-week maternity leave. While she enjoyed the practice, her co-workers and the families she treated, she explains that “it became increasingly difficult to find work/home balance. I had a very busy and rather complicated patient panel that would require me to finish most of my charts in the evening hours after work. I would only have a small amount of time I could spend with Lily before her bedtime and also needed to prepare for the next day of daycare and work.”

She began to work part-time on the weekends, beginning in January 2014 at a privately owned Urgent Care in Wake Forest, NC. When asked about the most difficult part of her decision she says now, “It definitely required a different clinical mindset. Working in family practice, the ‘bread and butter’ of my day was managing hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, with a large focus on preventive care.”

Ms. Parker notes that working now in Urgent Care “I have had to ‘switch gears’ and always be prepared for whatever may come through the door. Things are often not what they initially appear to be and I am constantly ruling out worst case diagnoses. The pace of the job can be challenging at times as it is a walk-in clinic and I am a solo practitioner during the weekend.”

She adds, “I have a very supportive and knowledgeable supervising physician … who has taught me so much. I absolutely love Urgent Care and feel that I have found my niche. My experience in family medicine was a solid foundation for my current position.” Ms. Parker hopes to stay in urgent care when she returns to full-time, which she plans to do when her children are in kindergarten.

Work/life balance is much easier now that Emily Parker works fourteen to sixteen hours each weekend. She notes, “I am able to come home to spend quality time with my family. This position has allowed me the opportunity to be actively involved at my daughter’s preschool.” She and Lily also can participate in other fun activities throughout the week. “It works well for our family for now,” she says. As for advice to those considering a major change Ms. Parker says, “It is all about figuring out what works best for your family – if that means part-time, full-time, or staying at home!”


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