Welcome Toni Patik, P.A., to Sage Primary Care
By Kristy Bleizeffer Jan 26, 2018
Wyoming Medical Center welcomes certified physician assistant Toni Patik to Sage Primary Care in Casper.
Patik has practiced medicine in Casper since 2001, most recently at Rocky Mountain Oncology. In her training, she specialized in children’s health, but she is accepting patients of all ages at Sage.
In the interview below, she explains why she is anxious to return to family medicine and what it means to build relationships with whole families.
How did you get into medicine?
I spent about 15 years as an environmental chemist, working in the local uranium industry and then working for various EPA contract labs around the country. I decided that I could not do that for another 35 years, so I wanted to pursue medicine.
Were you in Casper at that time?
I grew up in Casper, but I was living in Colorado Springs when I decided to pursue medicine. I returned to Casper to do some prerequisites because it had been so long since I had been in school. I decided the physician assistant program was a better option than medical school for me because I was married and had a young family. I attended the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and moved my young family to Denver for three years to complete my program, completing it in 1999.
Why did medicine interest you?
I wanted to interact with people instead of instruments. I am a natural caregiver, and I needed personal contact. I needed not to be stuck in a room with a bunch of instruments and environmental samples and nothing else.
When did you come back to Casper?
I did not actually get back to Casper until 2001. My first clinical setting was in family practice in Gillette. I worked there for two years and then moved to Casper to join the local VA clinic where I spent almost 10 years. Eventually, I transitioned into oncology where I spent five years.
How do you feel about returning to family practice?
I am so anxious to get back to seeing families again, as I did at the beginning of my career. Being in all adult medicine, as you are in oncology, it was very challenging, and I loved it. However, I am very anxious to return to my roots. My physician assistant training is as a child health associate specific to pediatrics.
I will also be working some in the Clinical Decision Unit at Wyoming Medical Center, so my position will be a blend of some acute inpatient care along with outpatient and family medicine. I am excited to have the opportunity to do both.
What do you like about inpatient care?
The real-time care. You do something now, you see the results right now.
I also enjoy helping people transition through really challenging times. People do not come to the hospital because they want to, they come to the hospital because they have to. To be able to help them get through that is very rewarding.
I like the whole hospitalist approach in medicine, the idea of having a provider oversee and care for a patient throughout their hospital stay. When I first started in medicine, hospitalists did not exist -- at least not out here. I really love that motto of having providers available at all times for real time decision making. I think it improves patient care and I think it improves outcomes. I hope and believe that it improves patient experiences as well.
What do you like about outpatient care?
I love getting to know my patients. I have been so privileged to get to know so many people in Natrona County, serving as primary care through the VA and then through their cancer journey. I love my patients, and they know that I love them. You build a relationship with them.
Because I grew up in Casper, when I first got back, I was treating the parents of kids I went to school with. It was amazing to be able to do that and know about their families and remember them from elementary school. Now I get the privilege of caring for my peers. It is a privilege when patients trust me with their health care.
What role does a primary care provider play in a patient’s health?
They are the gatekeeper. They know everything that is going on with their patient and help coordinate more specialized care when it is needed.
I think that Casper has a great community of specialty and primary care providers that have great communication. I know I have always had excellent availability with any of the other providers around for informal consultation.
How does Casper’s network of specialists compare to larger, metropolitan areas?
It is very impressive. I remember growing up that my parents always thought it was amazing how many specialists we had available in Casper, in a town of our size, and what a blessing it was that people did not having to travel out of the area for health care. Having practiced in a smaller community in Wyoming, actually two smaller communities that did not have access to all of those specialists, it is wonderful being able to keep the care for our patients in Natrona County and the surrounding area.