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PA Leadership Series: Heather Gates, PA-C

Empowered PAs, PA Leadership Series, Heather Gates

It has been an eventful PA week so far, and today we have an amazing PA I’m so excited to introduce! Heather Gates is a passionate dermatology PA, on the Board of Directors of the Florida Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (FSDPA) and also happens to be an awesome momma! We first connected in a Facebook mom’s group (Physician Assistant Moms) and then met last month at the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) Summer Symposium! We instantly hit it off, she has a passion for the profession and I was so glad we were able to discuss our amazing profession! She has been kind enough to answer our questions for the PA Leadership series!

Heather Gates, PA-C; Photo credit: Jonathon Fanning

Tell us a little about yourself? Name, how long you’ve been a PA, where you went to school and anything else you’d like to add.

My name is Heather Gates, PA-C, and I’ve been a PA for 8+ years. I was born and raised in Central Illinois and moved to Florida just a little over 3 years ago. I did my undergrad in Health Sciences at Bradley University in Peoria, IL and my Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where I was the Physician Assistant Organization President. I have been practicing in dermatology since graduation and would never do anything else!

Dermatology Physician Assistant Heather Gates and team
Photo credit: Jonathon Fanning

What is your role as a leader? (entrepreneurial, administrative, academic, political, etc.)

I am on the Board of Directors of the Florida Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (FSDPA). I serve as a Director at Large and Liaison to the FAPA Board of Directors. I am also in charge of social media for the FSDPA! (Follow us @FSDPA!!)

What does your typical day look like?

I work 4 days a week in Dermatology (Tues-Fri) 8-5. I see on average 40-45 patients/day. I do medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Typically I will see mostly medical patients with about 4 cosmetics/day made up of fillers, Botox or lasers, and about 2 surgeries/day which are usually skin cancer excisions. I have two amazing MAs who work with me, which I could never do my job without!

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

We are a private, physician-owned dermatology practice in The Villages, FL. Most of my patients are 55+ retirees living their best lives, which usually includes many hours/day out in the sun! My SP is amazing and gives me the autonomy I need to see my patients, but also is there to support me if I ever need him. I also work with 4 other physicians including a fellowship-trained Mohs Surgeon, a brilliant dermatopathologist (check him out at the next FSDPA New Wave Conference in April 2020!!), and an amazing reconstructive plastic surgeon that does all of our Mohs closures. Everyone is very supportive of me as a PA and treats me as an equal colleague, which I am very thankful for! I could not ask for better co-workers!

Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks?

Yes and no. I have both clinical and administrative tasks, but I am a big multi-tasker. I try and get most of my administrative work (prior auths, path results, prescriptions, labs, etc… ) all done between patients and over the lunch hour. I do not have any extra time allotted for administrative work specifically.

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

I went to the FSDPA conference when I moved to Florida a few years ago and fell in love with the passion for education motivation and friendship I noticed amongst the board of directors. I approached Jessie Holland, our president, and asked if they needed any help! Thank goodness they did because I am so thankful to be a part of this group of leaders!

Wait… total side note here.. I just realized that the FSDPA president just so happens to be one of my PA School colleagues! Jessie and I graduated from the University of Florida’s Physician Assistant program in 2011! Heather, good for you for reaching out and I’m so glad to see Jessie is a part of the leadership team too! -Courtney

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

I have taken the Dale Carnegie Leadership Class in the past, which was immensely helpful! Otherwise life experiences- both good and bad- truly helped me be a better leader!

If PAs are interested in leadership roles I strongly recommend becoming involved with FAPA or your respective state organization, as they are our best source of leadership training.

Heather Gates, PA-C

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

Absolutely! After joining the FSDPA I realized that we needed some serious growth in our social media, so I volunteered to take over all our social media platforms! It is such a great creative outlet for me and it also helps bring some education to our members outside of our annual New Wave Dermatology Conference! Anything anyone is passionate about they are welcome to be involved in, which is great!

Photo credit: Jonathon Fanning

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

I have never been more satisfied in both my clinical and leadership roles! I work with very supportive physicians at my clinical practice and love my patient population! I get a great mix of medical, surgical and cosmetic patients so it always keeps my days interesting! Like I noted above, I love being a part of the FSDPA and FAPA. It is rare to find a group of people equally motivated to promote the PA profession, educate our peers, and use their skills to benefit the greater good! It is a great creative outlet. Not to mention the great friendships I have formed from it!

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?

NO! There were no leadership courses offered through my PA school! I feel leadership courses should be included in our training as we are all stepping into our respective leadership roles as a PA whether we like it or not. Going forward leadership training is of the utmost importance with all of the issues our profession is currently facing! If PAs are interested in leadership roles I strongly recommend becoming involved with FAPA or your respective state organization, as they are our best source of leadership training. I also strongly recommend taking the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course!

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

Join your state and national organizations! Get involved! Volunteer! Network and make connections! Attend conferences! Attend legislative days for your state and learn the issues that our facing PAs today! And VERY IMPORTANT- familiarize yourself with OTP (Optimal Team Practice)! It is astonishing to me how many PAs do not understand what this is and what goals we are trying to achieve with it to further the PA profession! Educate yourself!

Join your state and national organizations! Get involved! Volunteer! Network and make connections! Attend conferences! Attend legislative days for your state and learn the issues that our facing PAs today! And VERY IMPORTANT- familiarize yourself with OTP (Optimal Team Practice)!

Heather Gates, PA-C

Anything else you’d like to add?

  • A little about me…Outside of my work and my leadership roles with the FSDPA & FAPA I enjoy spending time with my family! They are my rocks and support me in everything I do! My husband, Drew, is a stay at home dad to our youngest daughter. He also plays fantasy sports professionally and is starting his own business giving fantasy sports advice- literally living his dream! My youngest daughter, Hazel, is 9 months old and an absolute angel! She loves to smile, eat and giggle all day long! My older daughter, Audrey, is 4.5 years old, super smart, sassy and independent! She wants to be a PA like her mommy so she can make patients feel better and she will make a great leader someday! It takes a village to take care of these girls and I am super thankful for my village of family, friends, and co-workers! They allow me to enjoy my passion of dermatology and leadership!
Heather Gates and her family
Photo credit Jennifer Miller Photography
  • I love to read and frequently post about my favorite books on my personal Instagram at #HeatherGatesBookClub so if you are ever in need of a great read check it out! 
  • I am an avid Chicago Cubs fan and obsessive Disney and Universal Theme Parker! 
  • I’m a firm believer that you should follow your dreams! It may not be easy and you will have to work hard! You may have to take a big risk, but you will always regret it if you never try! Either way you will land on your feet and learn a great lesson in the end!

Social Media Info:

Personal Instagram: @heathergates03

FSDPA Instagram: @FSDPA

Twitter: @FSDPA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FSDPA/

I just want to say thank you to Heather for answering our questions and for doing such a great job! We love seeing PAs in social media and the work you’ve done to advocate for the profession and your specialty has been awesome to see! Keep up the great work!

Also, for those interested in taking the Dale Carnegie leadership courses.. we might just know a PA who can help! Contact us at info@empoweredpas.com if you want to learn more.

-Courtney

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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.