Meet the Provider: Kimberly Maasz, Physician Assistant
Kimberly Maasz, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant in breast surgery at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. She sees patients at Einstein Surgical Associates offices on Tabor Road and on Bustleton Avenue in Philadelphia.
We recently spoke with Maasz about her career, her interests, and breast surgery at Einstein.
Q: When did you decide to go into healthcare?
A: I was always interested in what makes the body work and how the body fights diseases, so I knew medicine was my calling in life. Going back to when I was a young child, I wanted to have a purpose in life by helping people. So I combined my drive to help others with my natural interest in medicine and became a physician assistant.
Q: Why did you choose to be a physician assistant?
A: I found out about the physician assistant (PA) profession when I was a junior in college at the University of Pittsburgh, which was kind of late in my education. I liked that the PA field allows flexibility. To be a doctor or nurse practitioner, you have to pick a specific field or area to specialize in. In the PA field, you have a choice of different areas (for example, surgery, women’s health, primary care etc.), and you can change your area of specialty throughout your career. That really appealed to me.
Q: Tell us about your education background.
A: I earned a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Thomas Jefferson University and graduated in August 2018. It was a well-rounded course of study, where I trained in many different medical areas. This was very helpful in choosing which area I wanted to focus on in my career.
Q: When did you decide to focus on breast surgery?
A: Surgery was my favorite rotation during my training at Thomas Jefferson University, and anatomy was my favorite subject. I like that with breast surgery, when cancer is diagnosed, a surgeon can remove the mass, which will hopefully restore the person back to health.
After I earned my PA degree, I worked as a surgical physician assistant at Lehigh Valley Hospital in general surgery. I gained experience working with patients who underwent a variety of surgical procedures.
I really enjoyed breast surgery, so when the opportunity came up to come to Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia to further explore breast surgery, I knew it was what I wanted to pursue.
What drew me to caring for women with breast cancer is that it’s monitored throughout the person’s lifespan, so the opportunity is there to build long-term relationships. I first see a patient in the office when they receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, then in the operating room during surgery, and again in the office for post-surgery check-ups.
For me, it’s incredibly rewarding to help patients through this very difficult time in their lives.
Q: What is the role of a surgical physician assistant?
A: The roles of a surgical physician assistant can vary depending on the practice, such as inpatient or outpatient or whether it is a teaching hospital or not. My previous experience was inpatient at a non-teaching hospital. I mainly worked in the operating room. I scrubbed in with the surgeon, held retractors, sutured and performed other tasks to help during the surgery. Other roles included seeing patients post-operatively and seeing patients in the ER who needed surgery. My current position is different. I am mostly seeing outpatients at Einstein, which is a teaching hospital. I see patients in the office before and after surgery.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
A: Einstein has a great team of experienced, compassionate surgeons and clinicians who are genuinely passionate about treating patients. Our program is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Center and also by the Commission on Cancer and the American College of Radiology. So it’s clear we provide high-quality care.
We participate in two of the largest clinical research groups in the country, which enables us to offer some of the most advanced and experimental cancer therapies available.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for breast surgery?
A: We have a dedicated team of highly-skilled medical experts. This includes our patient navigator, Margaret McNulty, RN, an experienced nurse, who helps guide patients through their care and treatment. With breast cancer, there are a lot of appointments required. She helps to make sure patients have transportation to their appointments and connects them with resources and social services.
To help prevent recurrence of breast cancer, it’s so important to receive the necessary follow-up care. Everyone on our team emphasizes this and provides support and resources to make it happen.
Q: What’s new in breast surgery at Einstein?
A: At Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, we offer technology that enables surgeons to precisely locate the cancerous tissue in the breast so only the cancerous tissue is removed, and this makes it possible for the surgeon to save as much healthy tissue as possible. Using this technology also reduces time in the hospital on the day of surgery, and our patients are pleased with the results.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: Running is a great stress reliever and helps clear my mind. I’ve completed a full marathon and three half marathons. I also enjoy baking – mostly cookies and cinnamon buns.
Q: Who was an early role model for you?
A: My parents were role models and have always been very supportive. My mother is a physical therapist (PT) and she had much influence in my going into the medical field. She worked as a PT and still came home and prepared dinner. She was a “super mom!”
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: I grew up loving the Harry Potter books and couldn’t wait for the next one to be released. I have such fond memories of reading them and talking about them with my friends.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I really like Gladiator with Russell Crowe. In 2001, the movie won an Oscar for Best Film and he won an Oscar for Best Actor.
Q: Do you have a favorite sports team?
A: I like the Chelsea Football Club, an English soccer team in the Premier League based in London. And, of course, I’m a big Eagles fan. Go Birds!
Q: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
A: I love visiting my friend in Colorado because the Rocky Mountains are so amazing. I also love Avalon at the Jersey Shore. I’m a fan of the mountains and the beach!
Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I am certified in scuba diving. I wanted to experience life under water. I went scuba diving in the Florida Keys and the Niagara River (yes, the same river that flows to Niagara Falls). My favorite place to scuba dive was in the huge tank for whale sharks, manta rays, and other sharks and fish at the Georgia Aquarium.
Also, I was on a Quidditch team at college. J.K. Rowling created quidditch for the Harry Potter books and now it’s an intramural sport! Flying broomsticks aren’t required, but players have to run up and down the field keeping their broomstick between their legs.