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Celebrating Healthcare Professionals - Leslie Clayton

Posted by Dean Celia

Mar 31st 2022

Oakstone CME is excited to celebrate healthcare professionals like you this month! Each week we will be spotlighting one of our own contributors so you can get to know the people behind the content.

In 2016, Oakstone CME was exhibiting at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and conducted a focus group dinner. A number of PAs who had visited the Oakstone booth at the meeting a year earlier were invited to the event. Over dinner the group discussed the increasing trend toward managing individuals with one or more chronic conditions. From this session and similar ones at other medical conferences, Practical Reviews: Chronic Diseases was born.

One of the clinicians who helped evaluate the opportunity was Leslie Clayton, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, a physician assistant at North Memorial Health in Golden Valley, MN. Leslie stopped by the Oakstone booth and subsequently attended the focus group dinner at that 2016 meeting in San Antonio. In retrospect, we are thrilled that she chose to attend a working dinner instead of taking an evening stroll on the Riverwalk. Oakstone and the clinicians it serves are better for the working relationship that ensued.

After we launched Practical Reviews: Chronic Diseases, Leslie agreed to join the program’s Clinical Advisory Board. In that role she helped evaluate chronic disease-related studies and treatment guidelines, and added important commentary to help clinicians apply findings in practice. Suffice it to say, Leslie did not rubber stamp our content selections. She questioned the choices, suggested alternative approaches, offered pragmatic clinical advice, and ultimately made the program better.

A few years later, when Oakstone was looking for a clinician to serve as Clinical Editor of its Family Medicine Insider program, selecting the best candidate was a no-brainer. After a week or so of discussion about the role, Leslie signed on. She is one of the key reasons Oakstone launched the popular Medication Matters series, which is a part of the Insider program. For all of Insider’s depth and breadth of content, Leslie pointed out several times the need to include information about medication-related best practices covering newer drug classes and other medications. We eventually got the message and Medication Matters was launched in 2020.

Leslie also played a key role in the development of Curated Playlists, where our Clinical Editors select relevant, related content and turn it into a learning playlist on the Insider site. Leslie’s recommended playlists include the COPD Bundle and Anticoagulation.

We recently sat down with Leslie to learn a little bit more about her background and personal interests, and asked what advice she would give to up and coming clinicians.

What led you to the medical field, and how long have you been practicing?

My mom was a nurse and I would often go with her to training classes on weekends. I was fascinated and always wanted to learn more. That led me to advanced science classes and through a series of fateful events I discovered the PA profession. This is my 24th year of medical practice as a PA.

Why did you choose to focus on family medicine?

I began my career in inpatient rehabilitation, which I really enjoyed. But the hours were too unpredictable and I wanted more consistency. I changed to family medicine after 3 years and have never regretted that decision. I love family medicine because I want to know the whole story -- all the parts of my patients’ lives. And to help them strive for improved health by addressing their needs comprehensively. Every patient is a new adventure and the impact of being a part of someone's health journey in family medicine is so worthwhile.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I enjoy the relationships with my patients. They trust me with their greatest needs, fears, and triumphs in life, which is very gratifying.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give a student pursuing your field?

Make sure you think broadly, never assume you know the answer until you have proof, and enjoy the work. It is a privilege to be someone's primary care provider and with that comes a great deal of trust being given to you. Always listen carefully and ask good questions because the patients will guide you to the answers -- if you pay attention.

How did you get involved in CME/medical education?

I have been a faculty member in a PA program since 2014 and CME work is a natural application of my educational experience.

How do you make earning CME fun/entertaining?

I believe having a passion for sharing knowledge is the first step to making CME fun. I also strive to be inventive regarding topics and delivery formats. That is how things started with Medication Matters. It began as an idea to expand the pharmacology content for family medicine providers and it became a wonderful team-based panel discussion that is engaging and clinically applicable.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I have hobbies I would like to pursue but my free time is very limited due to the many hats I wear professionally. But I do enjoy watching movies and taking bike rides - when the Minnesota weather allows.

If you had to pick another profession outside of medicine, what would it be?

I'd love to be on Broadway - but I was gifted with a brain for science and not the talents to achieve a Broadway career.


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