ERIC SHELTON – PHYSICIAN’S ASSISTANT, TAMPA
Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care.
As a physician’s assistant in PPOA’s busiest Florida pain clinic – Habana Avenue-Tampa – Eric Shelton, PA-C is known for his medical acumen and kindness to patients. Both are qualities he honed at a young age. He was only two when he was diagnosed with type I diabetes – and spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices.
“As I got older, I was able to recognize what a pleasant office visit was versus being passed through like a number,” he says. “Having such an experience helped me to see healthcare from a patient’s point of view. I developed the desire to help others within the healthcare field.”
A native of Johnson City, Tenn., he and his family moved to Lakeland, Fla. when Shelton was seven. After graduating from George Jenkins High School and Polk State College, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science from the University of South Florida in Tampa.
After working as a biomedical engineering tech for a medical device company, he realized his calling was patient care – the type he had received. But he faced an obstacle getting into PA school:
“The requirements were very stringent. They wanted 1,000 to 2,000 hours of direct patient care just to apply. My wife, Beatriz, picked up a second job so I could work as a medical assistant for free,” he recalls. “I worked 10-hour days nonstop, weekends included, with no pay. My wife picked up that full responsibility, which was very challenging.”
Eventually, Eric Shelton earned a Masters in Physician’s Assistant Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. He came to PPOA in April 2017 after working in orthopedics and neurosurgery. “I was taught to do several procedures that we do here and got to do them myself, so I have knowledge of what the process is before and after and what the expectations are,” he says.
“He has really taken his time to learn the company and to share his wealth of knowledge with other staff members, including myself, in order to make PPOA-Habana a ‘Clinic of Excellence,'” says regional supervisor Mary McKay.
If his experience as a patient and on-the-job training formed the foundation of his care philosophy, his education gave it focus.
“My medical training in PA school was Jesuit. They taught us to treat patients with a holistic approach. So you take all things into consideration,” he says. “You don’t go in closed-minded. You listen, you pay attention and you begin to put a treatment plan together.”
That dedication to patient care shines through, with patients giving him high marks on reputation and social media sites.
“I have personally seen the patients come to check out all smiles and raving about his bedside manner, how he always listens to their concerns and how they really feel cared for after a visit with him,” says McKay.
“Sometimes the longest part of the visit is just sitting and listening and hearing someone,” says Shelton. “But you gain so much information from just being attentive. The treatment plan just becomes more simplified. You give them time and attention, which sometimes they have not been able to receive. The heavier demands in the medical field continue to reduce the amount of time that providers have with their patients but it’s one of the key components that allow you to have a well-developed, well thought-out treatment plan.”
Beatriz Shelton is now completing her last semester in nursing school, and their son, Elijah, is about to turn three. With his career in interventional pain management in full swing, Eric Shelton plans to continue helping patients lead a pain-free life.
“I never want to stop learning,” he says. “The more I can learn, the better a provider I become.”