US Navy Lieutenant Commander Leticia Banker, MPAS, PA-C, MEd

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In honor of PA National Week, Clinical advisor features MAs who are making a difference in the field. Today we highlight Leticia Banker MPAS, PA-C, who is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. She has been practicing for over 12 years, including 11 in the Navy. In the spring of 2018, she assumed the role of deputy regimental surgeon with the 7th Marine Regiment, responsible for 8,000 Marines and overseeing 10 battalion medics. She served as Acting Regimental Surgeon from March to July 2018 and was subsequently selected for Task Force Spartan in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, as Task Force Surgeon in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE . Upon her return to the United States, she was appointed to the post of 7th Marines Regimental Surgeon. She received 2 Navy Commendation Medals, 2 Navy and Marine Corps Honor Medals, 1 Meritorious Service Medal and various unit-specific service recognitions.

She is currently head of department of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTU) San Diego Miramar, which houses more than 40 clinicians, 3 auxiliary clinics and 3 specialized departments. She has worked on accreditation committees, developed standard operating procedures for patient-centered medical clinics, and assisted in the clinician’s transition to a new electronic medical record system. PA Banker, is currently pursuing his DMSc and hopes to one day return to the world of teaching and help shape the next generation of AM.

Q: What is your role as a PA in the US Navy?

PA Banker: Working as a personal assistant in the Navy is different from other clinical settings. We are not just medical providers; we are so much more because of the demand for eclectic labor. I had the opportunity to be a clinic administrator, measurement manager and educator. I am often the advisor in operational planning and sometimes the coordinator of health services in specialized clinics. I have occasionally had the opportunity to take leadership courses, acupuncture training, and various scholarships. I also worked as a medical assistant, front desk manager and nurse when needed – whatever was needed to ensure the patient received the proper care.


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Q: What made you decide to become a childminder?

PA Banker: I was working as an interim head athletic trainer for the University of Missouri-Kansas City while completing my Masters in Education when I met someone who was planning to start an AP school. I was already drawn into sports medicine, but I was also drawn to other areas of medicine. Our university had a relationship with the medical school and they sent doctors to help with various other dermatological or medical issues. One night I was working with one of the residents and found myself teaching him how to perform a proper knee exam. That’s when I thought “I should do more” and decided to enroll in AP school.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

PA Banker: The most rewarding part of my job is the leadership opportunities – the ability to bring about change. I am currently in a position responsible for the management of a large clinic which is the work house of more than 80 people. I am also responsible for signing performance reviews for active duty and enlisted individuals.

I recently received a review for a young man who was informed that he had not been selected for the next rank and that his military service was about to end. Unfortunately, such scenarios happen too often. I was not happy and did not feel that the evaluation represented all of the hard work he had brought to the clinic. There was an underlying thought process that he was making the transition to civilian life and this latest assessment was unnecessary. We discussed his philosophy on life, medicine and military service. I expressed my concerns, and while he disagreed with my thought process, he agreed to provide my management with an updated CV to help us increase his assessment. Three weeks later, an announcement informed my team that this young man had been promoted to the next rank, which came with a pay rise and an opportunity to complete 20 years in the Navy and retire. with a pension. These stories are the ones that marked me the most. The people I touch in this job.

Q: What is the hardest part of your profession?

PA Banker: The most difficult aspects of my profession are the daily reminders to those around us that we are more than just a helper. Navy PAs occupy critical positions around the world. Still, relatively speaking, we are new to the Navy (1989) and have not had any leadership opportunities.

The continued need for our clinical presence, the constant demand for deployment, and competition with doctors and nurses for managerial positions make it difficult. I have yet to find the silver bullet that will help me solve this problem, but I continue to push this glass ceiling with other APs. I’m hopeful that someday others in higher places will say, “I don’t care if they’re AP; I just want someone who can do the job.

Q: Who is your most memorable patient?

PA Banker: My most memorable patient is the one who taught me more than he knew. He had a poisonous scorpion bite that happened in the desert. We were too far away to transport him to the ER and had to give him antivenom. Unfortunately, no one knew how to administer the drug. It turned out that the drug required scheduled administration and I did not have an IV pump, let alone a nurse. After a quick read and a brief online nursing lesson, I learned how to calculate the number of drip, replenish the medication, and provide the necessary medication. I know many can share the story of a fantastic patient who touched their hearts, which I experience on a daily basis, but the scorpion patient means more to me. He taught me that I must always be on my guard and that I am more than “just a helper”. I am a healthcare professional who trained, studied and helped save his life.

Q: How to avoid burnout?

PA Banker: It is so difficult to avoid burnout in the Navy, due to the need to move from place to place, not knowing which department I will be working in, and maintaining superior performance. I have the impression that we are experiencing a different type of burnout because our jobs change frequently and we are forced to wear several hats. This is why I say that burnout is a virtually inevitable situation for almost everyone in medicine with such candor; because sooner or later I’m going to move to a new position and make a fresh start in a new place, with new people and new leadership. We have a Navy PA support group, which helps a lot with burnout, and a lot of times we call and say, “I don’t need any suggestions right now; I just need you to listen to me let off steam. In addition, I dance to take away stress. I was a professional dancer in a previous life, and now I dance at a great little school with other adults who take up tap dancing.

Q: What do you know now that you would like to know before AP school?

PA Banker: The only thing I know now that I wish I had known when I left school is the process of entering the Navy earlier. If I had joined the Navy while in AP school, my finances would be less daunting.

Q: A final thought for our readers?

PA Banker: Although my life as a PA is very different from working at the local community clinic, we share exactly the same attributes. Our jobs are complex, the people are great, the patients are worth everything, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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