Health Professions Week: Q&A with Isabel Valdez

National Allied Health Professions Week is being celebrated Nov. 7 – 13, 2022.

Allied health professionals are an important part of the healthcare team at Baylor and its affiliates during typical times and health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Baylor is training the next generation of health professionals, including physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, genetic counselors and orthotists and prosthetists.

Fasser Award winners 2022

Elissa Love and Isabel Valdez, both Baylor College of Medicine physician assistants, received 2022 Carl E. Fasser Visionary Leadership Award.

Learn more about one of our practicing health professionals, Isabel Valdez, in this Q&A.

Valdez is a physician assistant at the Baylor Medicine General Internal Medicine clinic at the McNair campus, and a recipient of the 2022 Carl E. Fasser Visionary Leadership Award, which recognizes excellence by a PA in education, research, clinical practice, and service. Elissa Love, assistant professor in Baylor’s PA program, also received this year’s Fasser award.

Q: What is your educational background and the path that led to your career as a PA?

A: I worked with many PAs at MD Anderson for a short time after I finished my undergraduate degree from Rice. Their collaboration with the physicians and compassionate engagement with the patients felt like the balance of care and camaraderie that I wanted to achieve in my medical career.

Q: Describe your responsibilities in your role at Baylor College of Medicine.

A: I treat patients in the Baylor Medicine General Internal Medicine clinic every day by treating patients often on the same day they call for an appointment. Additionally, I have PA students from our top-ranked Baylor PA Program precept with me during their clinical year, and I lecture them during their didactic year. I support my team of staff and doctors with quality improvement projects to help us promote health and wellness to our patients while also helping us meet quality metrics for Baylor.

Q: What is the best thing about your career? What is the most challenging aspect?

A: Teaching patients, students and myself is the best part of my work. Medicine is a dynamic field and staying on top of new recommendations, guidelines and treatments that are based on evidence, is key to offering patients the best care possible. I’m privileged to learn from leading experts within Baylor while also profoundly humbled to be trusted by patients to care for them using this knowledge. Having students alongside for these patient interactions and seeing the students educate patients on lifestyle improvements are some of the most rewarding moments of my career.

Q: What would you tell others considering this career?

A: Being a PA, especially in academia, creates multiple ways to grow professionally. In the span of a week, I see patients, teach trainees, collaborate with my peers in quality improvement work and develop creative opportunities to promote my section and profession.

Q: What are the benefits and opportunities of working in an academic health center?

A: I find the collaboration of experts across countless fields to be an opportunity that comes second to none.

By Dipali Pathak