Physician assistant Elochukwa "Elo" Osoego, PA-C, is used to bucking trends and taking risks when it comes to making career choices.
With about 5% of PAs in the United States being Black and an even smaller percentage owning their own practice, he recently challenged the standard model when he opened a family medicine clinic in Jefferson City, Missouri, with his wife, Dara, a nurse practitioner (NP).
Missouri is among the states that require NPs and PAs to collaborate with a physician on medical decisions such as prescribing some medications, so the Osoegos work with two physicians who review a percentage of their patients' charts and are available for consultations.
We caught up with the Nigerian-born Osoego during Black History Month to learn more about his path to opening his practice and his team approach to providing family medicine.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Medscape: What is your medical background?
Osoego: My grandfather and great-grandfather were natural healers. My father wanted to go to medical school, but his parents didn't have the money to send him.
I knew I wanted to work in the medical field since I was 6 years old. I came to the United States in 2007. The plan was to go to medical school, but we started having kids. I got my bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology from the University of Missouri. I became a PA in 2018 and worked in an emergency department.
Medscape: Tell us about Innovative Medical Clinic.
Osoego: We do primary care and urgent care. Innovation doesn't just mean technology, though we do use a lot of technology. It also means offering convenient, affordable care to patients. When you walk into the clinic, a TV flips through and shows the prices. Before you even walk out of here, you know how much you're going to pay.
Medscape: Why do you believe there are so few Black PAs in the US?
Osoego: A lot of African Americans or Black people aren't really aware of what a PA is. You have people who all their lives aspired to become doctors, but they don't know they also can do so much being a PA. I try to mentor students, especially African American students, and push them toward the PA profession.
Medscape: We have reported that only 4% of PAs and NPs are practice owners. Why did you go that route instead of joining a hospital or larger practice?
Osoego: Working for a hospital system, I was spinning my wheels. It takes months or years to change things that will make a difference in a patient's life because of how big the organization is. Here, if we want to make a change, I talk to Dara and we talk to our medical directors and that's it. The changes are implemented the next day.
Medscape: How does teamwork help your practice?
Osoego: Dara has over 7 years of experience as a nurse practitioner and she has practiced in urgent care, in neurology and cardiology. I bring my emergency experiences to the clinic. There are not a lot of patients we can't treat. If a patient calls with a follow-up question and I'm with another patient, Dara can look up my notes and help that patient.
We can also call our collaborating physicians and say, "I have this patient. This is what I'm thinking. Are you thinking anything different?"
So teamwork is pretty important here.
Medscape: How else is the practice "innovative"?
Osoego: We have telemedicine. We have an in-house pharmacy so we can dispense medications. Our urgent care is robust, we can do just about any lab service you can think of on-site, and we can give antibiotics and [intravenous] fluids. Just two doors down, we have advanced radiology so most times we can get imaging the same day. That means we can see sicker patients.
We also have a good relationship with one of the local hospitals where we can directly admit patients we see in our clinic to the hospital.
Medscape: You don't accept insurance?
Osoego: That way, we can keep our prices affordable. For instance, through our clinic a CMP (complete metabolic panel) costs $5. At another clinic the cost might be $100 to $125. Also, you pay your bill for the day and you do not have to expect more bills later. That's it.
Medscape: What are your plans for growth?
Osoego: To date we've seen 500 patients, some of them multiple times; a good number for being open just over 7 months. We would like to get to 1000 after we've been open more than a year. We hope to stay open later [in the day] and add weekends.
Medscape: You mentor students. What do you tell them about becoming a PA?
Osoego: I tell them it is possible. You can see me coming from Nigeria with nothing, but with God's blessing and Dara, we're doing it. You can always reach out to us if you don't know how to start. I'm sure some day we will write a book about it so that people will know the steps we took and how we got to where we are.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News, and Nurse.com, and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.
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Lead Images: Elochukwa "Elo" and Dara Osoego
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Cite this: Marcia Frellick. PA-NP Couple Breaks Norms With Family Medicine Clinic - Medscape - Feb 28, 2023.