Meet Physician Assistant Bryan Sternberg
Physician assistant Bryan Sternberg explains his role on Dr. Breien’s medical team at Summit.
For Bryan Sternberg, a talent for mathematics and a passion for education guided him to an unexpected healthcare career. “For a long time, I was planning to go to medical school,” he says. “I explored engineering, economics, and teaching as an undergrad, but didn’t find that perfect fit. The sciences and medicine made sense to me.”
But a student job at a local hospital prompted him to reevaluate his healthcare career goals. “A lot of the doctors I met on a daily basis were stressed out and overworked,” he remembers. “I wanted to care for people, but I was concerned about the demands and the expense of medical training. The PA (physician assistant) profession was relatively new then, but it offered an appealing middle ground. PAs are trained to do many of the things a doctor does, but we complete our educational requirements sooner. As a PA, I am licensed to provide medical care. And I could begin my career and have the financial stability to start a family sooner. It was the right fit for me.”
Assistant to Dr. Kristoffer Breien
Under the Summit care model, Sternberg is part of surgeon Dr. Kristoffer Breien’s orthopedic team. “Every physician at Summit has a dedicated physician assistant,” Sternberg explains. “I’ve been working with Dr. Breien for 12 years. In an orthopedic subspecialty, our supervising physicians train us in the approach they want to take within their practice. I learn the language Dr. Breien uses to describe conditions and the techniques he prefers. I also assist him in surgery. For his patients, I provide access to his expertise and treatment under his supervision. I’m also more available to patients as a resource when they have questions.”
Sternberg values his patient relationships
“Physician assistants are trained and licensed as midlevel healthcare providers,” he explains. “I have the skills to conduct exams, diagnose, and handle conservative treatments,” Sternberg explains. “This frees Dr. Breien up to spend more time in surgery. As a result, I spend a lot of time with our patients and get to know them well.”
Sternberg enjoys the variety of patients he treats. “Orthopedic injury doesn’t discriminate,” observes Sternberg. “In our practice, we see high school athletes, weekend warriors, and senior citizens. I love working with these diverse patients and I value the personal relationships we develop over time. Our patients keep every day interesting.”
The benefits of a team approach
“As much as I love my patients, I also really enjoy working with my Summit team,” says Sternberg. “As a PA, you work with a wide array of healthcare professionals from nurses and doctors to scrub techs and radiology technicians. With four clinic sites, three surgery centers, and four hospitals, I may work in a different location every week. I enjoy the variety, and it’s great to work with Summit’s committed, talented team.”
Patient recovery is the best reward
“There’s nothing more rewarding than the ability to help someone,” says Sternberg. “Orthopedic specialists like to fix problems. Often, there’s more than one treatment solution for an orthopedic problem. I want to help my patients understand their options and choose the treatment tailored to their personal goals. Through an exam and diagnostic imaging, we are able to identify the specific problem and explain what’s wrong. Then, Dr. Breien and I always present all appropriate conservative and surgical options. We answer questions and help our patients choose the best option for their situation. It is wonderful to treat patients and see them through the journey to recovery. When they feel better, I feel great.”
More resources for you
Learn about whether you need medical evaluation if your legs give out.
Dr. Choi identifies bruised spine symptoms that require medical evaluation.
Summit’s spine fusion certification is the gold standard in surgical safety.