A day in the Life of an Oncology Physician Assistant

PA Coaching • September 26, 2023

Michele Neskey provides insight into the daily routine of a Physician Assistant in an outpatient oncology clinic. She offers a tour, showcasing various clinic areas including the lab and infusion center where patients receive IV treatments.

She discusses interacting with a diverse patient group, managing their symptoms, reviewing their treatment plans, and dealing with infusion reactions. Despite a hectic schedule and handling up to 20 patients daily, the assistant emphasizes the importance of personal breaks for maintaining focus and efficiency in providing patient care.

A Day in the Life of an Oncology Physician Assistant

Working in the field of oncology can be both emotionally challenging and deeply rewarding. Oncology Physician Assistants (PAs) play a crucial role in the care of cancer patients, helping to provide comprehensive and compassionate medical support. In this article, we will take you through a typical day in the life of an outpatient oncology PA. From patient interactions to the behind-the-scenes work, you’ll gain insight into the demanding yet fulfilling nature of this profession.

Morning Routine

Our journey begins as the Oncology PA arrives at the clinic. This outpatient oncology clinic is located on the first floor of a multi-story building. Upon entering through the back employee entrance, the day unfolds with a structured routine. The morning typically starts with a review of the day’s schedule and preparations for patient visits.

Patient Check-In

One of the first areas you encounter in the clinic is the check-in area for patients. Here, they provide their basic information and medical history before proceeding to the next steps in their care journey. This phase is essential for ensuring that all necessary information is up to date and accessible for the healthcare team.

Labs and Vital Signs

Once checked in, patients move to the area designated for labs and vital signs. Here, dedicated lab technicians handle the collection and analysis of blood specimens. Vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, are also recorded at this stage. These critical data points help guide the PA and the healthcare team in assessing the patient’s overall health and response to treatment.

Consultation Rooms

The heart of the clinic lies in the consultation rooms where patients meet with their Oncology PAs. These rooms are equipped with the necessary tools, including a table, chair, and computer. It is here that the PA has in-depth conversations with patients, discussing their symptoms, treatment plans, and addressing any concerns they may have.

Diverse Patient Cases

In an outpatient oncology clinic, it’s common to encounter a wide range of hematologic and oncologic conditions. This diversity includes both benign hematological conditions such as iron deficiency anemia and cancer-related disorders like lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer, and lung cancer. The PA’s role involves providing care to patients with varying backgrounds and diagnoses, requiring adaptability and a deep understanding of each condition.

Charting and Documentation

A significant portion of the PA’s day is dedicated to charting and documentation. In the workroom, located within the clinic area, the PA, nurse practitioner (NP), medical assistant (MA), and physician collaborate on recording patient information, treatment plans, and outcomes. Documentation is essential for maintaining accurate records, ensuring continuity of care, and adhering to regulatory requirements.

Reviewing Imaging Studies

Another crucial aspect of the PA’s responsibilities involves reviewing imaging studies and diagnostic reports. These studies provide vital information about a patient’s condition, showing whether it is progressing or improving. Discussing these findings with patients is an essential part of their care, helping them understand their treatment progress and what to expect.

The Patient Journey

The patient journey in an outpatient oncology clinic follows a structured path:

  1. Check-In: Patients provide their information and medical history.
  2. Labs and Vital Signs: Blood specimens are collected, and vital signs are recorded.
  3. Consultation Rooms: Patients meet with the healthcare team, including the PA, to discuss their condition and treatment plan.
  4. Review of Imaging Studies: Diagnostic reports and imaging studies are discussed with the patient to assess their progress.
  5. Treatment: If necessary, patients proceed to the infusion center for treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, blood transfusions, or iron infusions.
  6. Continued Monitoring: Patients may return to the consultation rooms for follow-up appointments.

Lunchtime Break

After a busy morning of patient interactions and documentation, it’s essential for the PA to take a lunch break. This brief respite provides an opportunity to step outside, stretch, breathe fresh air, and mentally prepare for the afternoon clinic. Maintaining mental and physical well-being is crucial in the demanding field of oncology.

Infusion Center

The infusion center is a critical component of the clinic, where patients receive various intravenous treatments. It is equipped with comfortable chairs and beds, a nursing station, and an on-site pharmacy. Oncology PAs are closely involved in managing infusion reactions when they occur, working alongside nurses to ensure patient safety.

Patient Volume

One question often asked is how many patients an Oncology PA sees in a day. The answer depends on factors such as the number of providers on duty. On average, an Oncology PA may see around 20 patients in a day. This number can vary based on staffing levels and the complexity of patient cases.


A day in the life of an Oncology Physician Assistant is a blend of compassion, dedication, and clinical expertise. From morning check-ins to afternoon treatments and evening charting, these professionals play a vital role in the care and support of cancer patients. Their ability to adapt to diverse patient cases and maintain a high level of patient care is a testament to their commitment to improving the lives of those affected by cancer.

Also read: PA School Admissions Accelerator Program: Your Path to Success

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU