Page Banner Health welcomes Olivia S. Piacentini, a new Physician’s Assistant Certified (PAC) to the Banner family medical staff.
Piacentini is from Rochester, New York and has found her niche in the Grand Circle community since she began working at Page Banner in January where she plans on staying for a long time.
Piacentini began her undergrad studies at Hartford University in Connecticut before moving back to Rochester to work as a medical assistant for a family practice operation. Her goals to become a medical professional continued when she attended Seton Hall in Pennsylvania. While attending Seton Hall she traveled to Guatemala to help the underserved in need of medical attention. Piacentini returned to Seton Hall to finish her education where she gained her Master of Science degree in physician assistant. She’s been practicing medicine as a PAC for four years come October.
“I keep getting asked if I’m going back to school to be a doctor but, as opposed to being an MD, I picked being a PAC because I prefer the lifestyle,” said Piacentini. “I didn’t use my degree as a stepping stone to becoming an MD.”
Prior to her junior year at Seton Hall she had full intentions of furthering her education to become a doctor.
“There was a PA in the office I was working at and I got to see that they went home at 5 pm everyday. I wanted a job that afforded me that.”
Piacentini added she also wanted the experience and versatility of working in specialty areas.
“The PA profession is designed to give you generalized training in multiple areas of specialty instead of focusing on one. You could go from surgery to this job and you never get bored. You have mobility among professions to find your niche.
“Previous to moving here I worked in surgery. When I started [rotation in surgery] I knew it was going to be a challenging job. But since I was young I thought I should do something challenging. I was a part of all surgeries,except cardiac. We were rotated monthly to different departments [including] plastic surgery. They call it an itinerant schooling system.”
Piacentini has another goal: To break the stereotypical view of how PAC’s are perceived at times. People have underestimated the education and training PAC’s must acquire before certification, which can be as intensive as the same education and training a medical doctor must receive. Piacentini acknowledges that people sometimes mistake her status as that of a nurse, which could lead to trust issues while trying to treat a patient.
“There is a negative connotation and people don’t understand that.,” she said. “[Being a PAC] is 85 percent similar to being an MD. They tried to change the [job title] but it costs too much. Patients understand more, and more as it becomes tangible for people to see and experience what it’s like to go to school for eight years.”
Piacentini has been a practicing PAC for four years and had been in Page since last December.
Upon meeting Piacentini, her New York roots show through with her fast talk and quick gestures. She feels the friendly nature of the area is unlike New York.
“So far everyone is very welcoming and super friendly, which I appreciate.
That is something different than what you will find in the New England states. Everybody is genuine there too but its different here.”
She attributes this quality to the size of large New York cities for this description.
“I don’t much care for big cities, even though I lived close to New York.”
As an athlete throughout college, she has kept up a healthy lifestyle by incorporating activities and joining in local events, such as joining the Lake Powell Cross Fit club and their slow pitch softball team.
“If I am not at work then I’m at Cross Fit and if I’m not at Cross Fit, then I am hiking. Usually I am doing something. If there is an opportunity to know more about the Navajo culture or the culture of Page in general I explore it.”
“Friday I went to the Wild West Independent Film Fest at the Park. The National Park Service is having a Lunar Moon Party Saturday and Kanab has a rodeo on Saturday too, so I am going to do that. I want to take advantage of the opportunity to do things unique to the area, which is something I didn’t do at home.”
One of Piacentini’s favorite pasttimes is hiking the local, and Grand Circle trails. She is always looking for that hike that will give her a glimpse of the obscure paradise only nature can conceal.
“Hiking is an incentive [to live in Page] so every Sunday I hike. I have made it a point to go to a national park once a month. My favorite trail is Spencer’s Trail at Lees Ferry or Observation Point in Zion.”
She added popular places like the Wave will have to wait until winter to avoid the lottery competition.
“My family keeps suggesting places like Havasu. But stuff is harder to book in the Grand Canyon.”
She is enjoying her new home in the Grand Circle and says she feels very welcome by the Page community.
“I have the advantage of the outdoors. As long as the parks don’t go anywhere then my time is indefinite. I also love working with Dr.Knudson.”