Sean Conroy of Hays will have a book signing for his book, “Through the Eyes of a Young Physician Assistant” Friday at the Hays Public Library during the Summer Art Walk.
Conroy, a native of McCook, Neb., works at Decatur Health in Oberlin in primary medicine and emergency care. However, the book chronicles his year of rotations for Union College (Nebraska) as a physician assistant.
When Conroy began working on the book, there was nothing on the work of physician assistants except academic texts.
Physician assistants can do anything a doctor can do except surgery, including prescribing medication.
Conroy’s mother is a nurse and he was first inspired to consider being a PA when he was 17 and met a young PA in his hometown. He considered becoming a doctor, but after his first son was born, he decided he would rather spend less time in school and went back to his original plan to be a PA.
“I can still get out there at the patient’s bedside and do all the things I want to do and have a rewarding career,” he said.
In writing his book, he said he wanted his readers to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life and work of a physician assistant.
“Everyone walks into the doctor’s office to see a physician assistant or MP — all providers — we try to put on our nice little face even if we are having a stressful day. We try to make sure the patient doesn’t see that and they get good quality care, but some times behind the scenes there are these crazy, hilarious or heartwarming or sometimes just tragic things that do happen.
“Even if you have a code go south, which sometimes I do, you have to walk out of the emergency room. You talk to the family. You tell them everything you can. You ask if they have any more questions. When you are done talking, you have to walk out to the next patient and put on that same face, ‘I am here to help you. What is going on today? How long has it been going on?'”
He said the stories are told from someone who was a blank slate and was walking into medicine for the first time.
Conroy said he was particularly inspired by a veteran he worked with in Grand Island, Neb., who was receiving hospice care for pancreatic cancer.
He lived in Omaha, but was sent to Grand Island for hospice care because no beds were available in Omaha. In his dying days, he was separated from his daughter, granddaughter and all his friends who he had worked with at the zoo in Omaha.
“He was so stoic and strong and almost inspirational as he was facing death,” Conroy said. “Since there wasn’t much to do except review his medications, they let me go down there and follow him for the last two weeks I was there. I really got to know him and see how strong he was facing death. He was just an inspirational patient.”
He told the story of the man over and over, and his wife encouraged him to write the story down.
“I got the notion that maybe I should write down all of the heartwarming or hilarious stories from my PA rotations and make a book compiled of all of them,” he said. “Little by little with starts and stops, that is what I did.”
The book is written in plain English in laymen’s terms, so it is accessible to readers who do not have medical backgrounds.
However, Conroy has heard from a number of PA programs and pre-med students who said they have read the book as a means to better understand the career they are pursuing.
Conroy began writing in 2012, and the book was published in 2016. Conroy had no formal training as a writer. However, during high school he was a part of an afterschool program for young authors called Write to Publish. The students wrote short stories and critiqued each other.
Since the publication of his book, he has been contacted by several physician assistant websites and written articles for them. He also has started a second book that delves more into his personal life.
“Through the Eyes of a Young Physician Assistant” can be purchased at the book signing for $15 including tax. The HPL also has a couple of copies in its collection for check out.