PA Leadership Series: Nicole Schtupak, PA-C

PA Leadership Series: Nicole Schtupak, PA-C Physician Assistant

We are continuing our celebrations of PA week by featuring another amazing PA for our PA Leadership series! I was so fortunate to have met Nicole during the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) Summer Symposium in Marco Island this year and I’m so thankful I did! She can best be described as a “powerhouse” and is such a fantastic example of PA leaders who give back!

Nicole Schtupak works clinically as a PA in emergency medicine and holds several leadership roles including FAPA South Regional Director, American Academy of PAs (AAPA) House of Delegates (HOD) alternate, and adjunct professor for Barry University. She has received several awards for her philanthropic work and is a great example of how PAs can raise awareness of our profession by getting involved in the community. She is a mentor and all-around awesome PA and we are so glad to feature her this week!

PLUS- since it’s PA Week, there’s another giveaway for PAs!

Nicole Schtupak, MCMSc, PA-C, RDMS (AB OBGYN BR), South Regional Director, FAPA and AAPA House of Delegate, alternate photo credit: Cleveland Clinic of Florida

Tell us a little about yourself! What is your role as a leader?

As a registered diagnostic sonographer with fourteen years of experience, I graduated from the physician assistant program at Barry University; suma cum laude on December 12, 2015 with a passion and love for emergency medicine. Currently, employed full time in the main ED, per diem in interventional radiology at Cleveland Clinic Florida, also a trained critical care flight PA with Atherias Aviation. I enjoy the interaction with my patients, and I want to continue helping individuals on a larger scale, making a greater contribution to the health and well-being of my patients.

Sharing those intimate moments with my patients is what makes all the difference for me. Being there as an ear, or a voice for them, being their advocate and seeing the gratitude in their eyes, is why I do what I do.

Nicole Schtupak, MCMSc, PA-C, RDMS

As a diagnostic medical sonographer over my 14 years, I’ve obtained multiple specialized board certifications, and have been trained in a wide array of interventional and sonographic procedures, and various aspects of general medicine; adding a nice compliment to the PA training I have received. Honestly, I had no idea I would fall in love with ER and critical care. I was all about “girl parts” and GYN oncology. However, on my ER rotation while in PA school, on my second day… it was my attending who asked what area I was interested in. I said GYN oncology… He said… “No, I don’t think so, you’re made for ER”. I laughed and said, ” who wants to do this all day!”  But the more I was there, and I realized how challenging it is… I realized that he was right, emergency medicine fits my personality completely. I love that you never know what you’re going to get, emergency medicine always keeps you on your toes. Each day and shift are different. But what I love most, is helping those who come through my doors, who have been other places and have not been able to figure out what is ailing them… I have been so fortunate to have been able to figure out and help so many who had been searching years for answers. Sharing those intimate moments with my patients is what makes all the difference for me. Being there as an ear, or a voice for them, being their advocate and seeing the gratitude in their eyes, is why I do what I do.

Right to left: Nicole Schtupak, MCMSc PA-C RDMS, Jennifer Davis, PA-C, Jasmine Oberman, PA-C. October 10th, 2019 winners of “Outstanding PA department” for the Cleveland Clinic system , Cleveland Clinic Florida Weston ER

Giving Back

I am entering my second term as the South Regional Director for the Florida Academy of PAs and remain an adjunct professor at Barry University PA program. Additionally, hold a seat on the AAPA House of Delegates as an alternate. When I took on this role as South Regional Director, I had not ever held a leadership spot for the Florida Academy of PAs, however, I was excited for this new role. My goal (s) were/ are to increase awareness in the community about PAs. Build a south region team that had the same goals, with the passion and drive to advocate for our profession in our region. My team is absolutely incredible. We had such a fantastic year in the south, none of which could have been accomplished without them. Some of our community events are:

  • Organized Hurricane Relief Drive, Island of St. Croix- a truly successful hurricane relief drive for Barry University students that were displaced from 2 cat 5 hurricanes                  
  • Annual South Regional Children’s Hospital Toy Drive – over 500 toys collected over the past 2years and distributed to the 3 children’s hospitals in South Florida.
  • Thanksgiving Regional Drive and volunteered with Big Heart Brigade
  • FOX School supply Drive
  • Annual PA Week Events at Cleveland Clinic Florida
  • Skin Cancer Awareness
  • Beach Cleanup
  • FAPA PAC Fundraiser at the Improv
  • I have traveled the stated voluntarily to Guest Speak at various Florida PA programs and PrePA clubs
  • Raising awareness about domestic violence, and fundraising for non-profit company No More Tears
2019 FAPA South Region Beach Clean Up

Mentorship

Furthermore, currently mentoring 29 PrePAs. I was a student member on the admissions board for Barry University. One of the things I love most is mentoring aspiring PAs. They are the future of our incredible profession and I enjoy sharing my experiences with them. I remember clearly the emotional rollercoaster ride of applying, and I did not have someone to guide me. It was a terrible feeling and contributed to the emotional ride. It can seem at times that we are alone and “no one understands” while going through the entire process of PA school from application to admission to graduation, and I do not want my pre-PAs to feel that way. Reality is, that many of us do understand, and remember. However, sadly more don’t take the time to mentor. There is huge insecurity and vulnerability that many of us don’t speak of while we go through our PA school journey. It about embracing all of that, facing your fears and recognize that not one of us is perfect. Understanding that “flexibility is key in a sea of constant change”.  I would love to see more PA mentors and leaders. My thought is that WE are in this together. Being a PA is about teamwork. The “team” isn’t just our work environment. It’s the entire PA profession. We need to support each other, as PrePA, PA-S, and PA-C. Students are the future of our profession. I feel that it is our job to guide and mentor them to become the best version of themselves that you can be. Even if that means challenging them, forcing them to ask the tough questions. It is here, that they will change and grow. I love my students. Each has a unique trait that will be beneficial to our profession. We need to step out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves to become the best provider for our patients. I want to share all that I have learned with my students, hopefully making their journey a little easier. Also giving them a sense of security and knowing that there is someone who understands what they are going through, and we are here for them.

Since graduation, I have been asked and invited to speak at several University’s PrePA meetings and PA programs throughout the state; traveling voluntarily to do this is one of my favorite things. Sharing experiences and having an open and honest conversation about the realities and expectations of what lies ahead. It’s been truly an incredible start to entering this profession. I have recently been recognized and won a few awards for my contributions to the community, and profession:

  • Outstanding Physician Assistant, FAPA
  • Published in “The PAper”  Spring 2018
  • Outstanding Physician Assistant, Cleveland Clinic                                  June 2018
  • Outstanding Student Mentor, AAPA May 2018
  • FAPA President’s Award for Emergency Preparedness Relief in Hurricanes. August 2017

What does your typical day look like?  

My day varies and depends on how my patients are. Some days it is a lot of critical care, others are procedural and “minor care”. Most often, it is a fantastic mixture of procedures and critical care. I’m thankful to work and learn from a wonderful team of physicians who allow me to practice at my full scope. Procedures include intubation, joint reduction, suturing, central lines, all of the fun ER stuff!

If you are clinical, how is your practice set up? What is the structure and what is your relationship with your supervising physician like?

In both Emergency medicine and interventional radiology, my attending physicians are incredible. They are 100% supportive of PAs and allow us to practice at our full scope. We collaborate together to benefit the overall health and well-being of the patients. Our APP’s (advanced practice providers) are scheduled for either main ED or fast track/ minor care depending on which shift you’re scheduled for that day. However, we help each other out if one side happens to be busier than the other. I am truly blessed to work on such an incredible team of APPs and physicians.

Cleveland Clinic Florida Weston Emergency Department. Right to left, James Roach, DO Medical Director for Emergency Services institute at Cleveland Clinic Florida and Medical Director for Broward Sheriff Office Fire Rescue. Jennifer Davis, PA-C Emergency Medicine Cleveland Clinic Florida Weston. Ian Russinoff, MD Assistant Medical Director for Emergency Services institute at Cleveland Clinic Florida and Assistant Medical Director for Broward Sheriff Office Fire Rescue. Erika Gayle, MD Emergency Medicine Physician Cleveland Clinic Florida. Nicole Schtupak, MCMSc PA-C RDMS Emergency Medicine and Interventional Radiology PA-C.

Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks?

I am primarily a clinical PA. Administrative tasks come with my volunteer position as South Regional Director. I do this in my spare time attending meetings, conference calls, meeting with senators, networking, communal events and traveling to various schools educating and promoting our profession. Additionally, traveling to Tallahassee for legislative days, speaking with various legislative leaders promoting. Educating and advocating our profession.

Did you pursue a leadership role or was it offered to you?

One of my mentors reached out to me and asked if I would think about running for the south regional director position. He felt that my personality and energy would be beneficial to FAPA. I had not held a leadership spot previously with FAPA, and was a bit nervous for many reasons about the position, but felt that I would be a great person for this role. You never know, unless you go for it!  It was the absolute best decision.

How did you prepare for your role? Did you take any leadership courses?

Prior to being nominated and elected into my positions, I had not taken any prep/ leadership course, however, I have since completed the FAPA leadership academy. Much of our leadership preparation comes from our personality, which then needs to be cultivated and fine-tuned by our mentors. I have been blessed to have some pretty amazing mentors throughout my career thus far.

Much of our leadership preparation comes from our personality, which then needs to be cultivated and fine-tuned by our mentors.

NICOLE SCHTUPAK, MCMSC, PA-C, RDMS

Do you have room or opportunities to grow in your current leadership position?

Yes, there is always room to grow, professionally and personally. I will continue to do so, wherever the stars may take me.  

Are you satisfied with your position? If you could do it all over again, would you?

I am completely satisfied with where I am at this point. If given the opportunity to change anything in my life thus far, I would not change a single thing. Every single moment and experience, both good and bad, have contributed to the person I am today, and I am 100% happy with the woman I have grown into. I am truly excited for what lies ahead.

Do you think PAs are adequately educated about how to be a leader? If not, do you have any suggestions on what should be taught?

I do not think that PAs are adequately educated regarding leadership opportunities or know how to get started. Those that are, often I feel that insecurity about their own abilities is often the rate-limiting step. We all have our insecurities, however, sometimes it takes someone else looking from the outside to give us the courage to pursue. We need more encouragement, a better support system for our PAs and those aspiring to be. We can educate them on the formalities of leadership, but if we don’t outwardly state their strengths about why we think they would make a terrific leader, it won’t matter. We need to be better at building each other up, planting those positive seeds to encourage growth into leaders. This is imperative for the overall health of the PA profession. We need to build each other up and support each other, after all, we are a team!

We need to be better at building each other up, planting those positive seeds to encourage growth into leaders.

NICOLE SCHTUPAK, MCMSC, PA-C, RDMS

Do you have any suggestions for newly graduated PAs interested in becoming leaders in their community?

Become a part of your state organization!! Your state chapters need you; your profession needs you. Do not be afraid to reach out with any questions. Understand that each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. It’s completely ok to be nervous, but if you never try/ask the answer is always no. You have everything it takes already to become the leader you are meant to be. You have made it this far through a truly difficult feat. If you can do this, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am always available for questions, to speak, to talk to for anything that you need. I am a completely open and honest person. I will do my best to help you however I can.

What is your contact, website or social media info?

FAPA Summer Symposium, Marco Island 2019

BIG thanks to Niki for all of her inspiring and amazing work! Her dedication to the profession is truly remarkable! She is a fantastic example of what an Empowered PA can be, and I’m so thankful she answered questions for our PA Leadership series!

And with that, it’s time for another giveaway!

physician assistant week 2019 giveaway

Win a copy of the book “Elemental Medicine” by John Bielinski

Today’s giveaway is for any PAs or PA students who want to understand the basics of lab and imaging interpretation in a way they can understand. This book is more like a “conversation” than a textbook and is such a great resource.  We are giving away 3 copies of this awesome book!

Another great big thank you to John Bielinski at CME4Life for his generosity in making this happen! He remains incredibly dedicated to educating PAs in nontraditional ways and so I’m excited to offer this giveaway!

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Courtney
Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.