Marcie Mofid, PA-C
Class of 2008
Marcie Mofid is a graduate of USC Keck School of Medicine's Primary Care Physician Assistant Program and specializes in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. She has 5 years experience in Otolaryngology and is a guest lecturer at USC's PA program.
Here, she shares her experiences after graduation - everything from choosing a speciality to how to advance once you have chosen.
How did you get into otolaryngology/Head & Neck?
I didn't choose it; it chose me. This is the story with most of things in my life. I liked the idea of practicing medicine that incorporated the art of using one's hands to cure. I have always loved to draw, sew, take things apart and build them back together again. I thought surgery or ER work could give me that satisfaction. The county orthopedic job I wanted wasn't going to pay me for 6 months and the ED jobs wanted experience. The lone county head and neck surgeon was backlogged 6 months and desperately needed help. He was willing to train. The idea of looking up nose and gagging people all day seemed unattractive to say the least, but I figured it would be worth a try. My supervising surgeon was so easy going and supportive, he made the job easy for me to grow and enjoy the practice. While the specific job has its aspects that make it enjoyable, the people who you see everyday, trust and admire, makes a world of difference. Find a supervising physician who gives you those things and you will enjoy almost any job.
What types of procedures do you do?
I have been blessed with two surgeons who love to operate and who are not afraid to take on the big, nasty cases. I am their second pair of hands. I am also a pair of ears to listen how they talk themselves through cases. I help mostly with the neck cases like thyroidectomies, removal of neck cysts, masses or cancers. I help with anything that needs an extra pair of hands. I also know the equipment well and how the surgeons like the rooms set up and the cases to run. I am a helpful liaison with the surgical techs and nurses. I also help cases run on time and efficiently, which doesn't happen as often as it should in a county run facility. Operating is a great experience, but not for the faint at heart. The hours can be long, the bathroom breaks few and the neck aches many.
What do you like most about your job/specialty?
Head and neck surgery is often described as a speciality with both challenging medical and surgical aspects. It mixes both the cerebral and the physical art of medicine. I like that most about head and neck surgery. That part of the job tickles the right side of my brain, while my patient population works the left side of my brain. Working for a county facility, I treat a whole spectrum of people from the homeless to county district attorneys to foster children and the incarcerated. I am forced to appreciate where people are in their lives and meet them there. Some are grateful, some refuse care despite my best efforts, some curse and others just want me to listen. It is practice in appreciating humanity in all its shapes, sizes and forms. I am lucky and grateful to be a part of it.
What is your schedule like?
It's all over the place and is much different now than it was when I first started. When I first started off in head and neck surgery, I knew very little and needed to know a lot and really fast. I would often come to work at 6:30 in the morning and not leave until 6:30 at night. I would read about cases I had seen in clinic that day to educate myself. Getting the hang of dictating, coding and filling out a billing form was all new to me and took time to learn. This all took a lot of time and dedication. My supervising surgeon taught me a lot and kicked me out of the nest as soon as I started to stretch my little baby wings. The autonomy was great, but came with great responsibility to teach myself and know when to ask questions. Surgery also adds another element of learning, including surgical procedures, anatomy, inpatient care, surgical equipment, etc. Hence, the 12 hour days. Now, that I have got down my routine, I work more regular hours Monday through Friday 8-9 hour days with the long day once or twice a week. No call.
What salary range can you expect?
Working for a county facility even in a specialty practice, it is common to get a significant percentage less than in private practice. The key is to build your resume and your attributes each year so you can make yourself more profitable. Every year or two, I present my case to the administration for a raise. I don't always get it, but I try. I am fluent in Spanish and take a 2-hour class weekly to keep fluent. It saves time, money and resources to not need a translator. I have learned to properly code and get reimbursed for my services (called RVUs), which shows them how much money I make the company each month. I publish papers and regularly go to specialty meetings. The reason I choose to get paid less than what I would in a private practice job is manifold. My supervising physicians are awesome, my patients challenge me, my colleagues are amazing clinicians and my medical assistant is my best friend. That stuff is invaluable.