My name is Leanne Vallee and I’m a physician assistant at Baystate Medical Practices—Quabbin Pediatrics. I have been a physician assistant for 10 years, starting my career in physiatry and sports medicine before transitioning to pediatric primary care. I chose a career as a physician assistant because I wanted to treat not only athletes, but the general population as well. As a physician assistant I get to be part of a health care team with one goal: treat our patients and help them grow into wonderful people.
It’s a challenge for everyone to work during COVID-19, but the vast amount of scientific knowledge coming out will continue to enhance our health for years to come. I think it is fascinating that we as a community, not just a medical community, but the general population, are seeing the scientific process play out in real time.
Working on the front lines of a primary care practice during the pandemic has impacted my life greatly. The most challenging thing about working during COVID-19 has been the fear of the unknown and trying our best to keep our patients and families healthy and safe. My children are acutely aware that I am treating patients during this pandemic and when I walk through the door in the evening they ask if I am doing okay. My boys have learned to save their welcome home hugs until I have changed out of my scrubs and into my “home clothes.”
I chose to specialize in sports medicine out of a love of teamwork, athletics and competition with one’s self to always strive to be a better version of who you are today. Prior to my career as a physician assistant, I was a certified athletic trainer at a local NCAA Division II college, reaching the role of interim head athletic trainer prior to leaving for my graduate studies program in physician assistant studies. I worked closely with the football, ice hockey and baseball teams while an athletic trainer, but was also involved in covering all the athletics at the college. As part of my role as interim head athletic trainer, I had the pleasure of helping coordinate athletic training services for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight basketball tournament when it was held in Springfield at the MassMutual Center.
Remote learning changed a lot about how student-athletes used their bodies. A tip I would share would be to plan a return to being active or to start being active by gradually increasing your activity each day and every week. A gradual return to activity, both in time and intensity, helps to wake up those muscles that haven’t had a lot of demand placed on them get them back into shape.
At Quabbin Pediatrics we are striving each day to keep our patients safe. We have a separate dedicated respiratory clinic available so we can treat our patients in-person while maintaining our current clinic space so we can continue to see our youngest patients. I often say to my patients’ parents that I love working in pediatrics because I get to laugh every day! There’s a uniqueness about pediatrics that allows you into the lives of your patients and you get to watch them grow from infants to children and adolescents and then into early adulthood. It’s a wonderful gift to watch a patient grow and one I’m thankful for every day.
I encourage anyone who is medically eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to do so. When the community as a whole comes together to protect themselves and others, we can emerge from this pandemic stronger for it. When we protect ourselves with the vaccine, we are also providing protection for others who have not received the vaccine yet. I look forward to a time when we will all be vaccinated and can live our lives to the fullest.