Lyle Larson, PA-C

Lyle Larson is a Certified PA who has worked in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery in a busy academic medical center for 30 years. He works with medical residents and fellows in surgical settings and recently co-authored the textbook Surgical Implantation of Cardiac Rhythm Devices 1st ed. Elsevier with his collaborating physician Dr. Jeanne Poole, MD. He is the first PA to co-author a surgical textbook directed for physicians and other practitioners in the cardiology subspecialty of electrophysiology.

Certified PA first to co-author book in electrophysiology

This year, Lyle Larson, MS, PhD, PA-C, adds pioneer to his list of many accolades. As the first physician assistant to co-author a textbook for physicians, Larson documented over 30 years of experience working in electrophysiology in Surgical Implantation of Cardiac Rhythm Devices with co-author and collaborating physician Jeanne Poole, MD. Electrophysiology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

The genesis of the book began eight years ago when Larson and Poole saw a need for a comprehensive textbook on electrophysiology device implantation and envisioned a resource that addressed safe, effective surgical implantation of pacemakers, ICDs (implantable cardioverter defibrillators) and other devices. In its first edition, Surgical thoroughly covers surgical techniques and procedures ranging from sutures to special circumstances and complications. Medical providers training or requiring additional guidance to perform these complex procedures can refer to the book’s detailed illustrations and accompanying online video clips. The book debuted at the American College of Cardiology meeting in March 2017 and became the second highest selling textbook at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in May 2017.

Off the heels of the book’s recent release, Poole and Larson are starting to gather data for a second edition. In the interim, Larson has a busy schedule fulfilling duties as clinically-practicing PA, teaching associate, preceptor and president of the Washington Academy of PAs, a role he’s held since 2016.

But rewind 30 years ago. and the blueprint for his career would look vastly different. After graduating from the University of Texas at Southwestern’s PA program, he initially planned to practice in rural health. Those ambitions were diverted after a job offer fell through due to the death of his hiring physician. Soon after, Larson accepted a position as a PA in the cardiology division at the University of Washington Medical Center. It was there that he met cardiac electrophysiologist, Poole, and they would go on to form a decades-long partnership as colleagues in medicine.

“I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right people,” he said.

Since 1986 he’s practiced clinically and taught medical students and fellows on electrophysiology surgical procedures. A typical day begins at 7 a.m. conducting clinical rounds on pre-operative patients. He then heads to an electrophysiology laboratory where he instructs fellows through surgical procedures while an attending physician either participates or observes. In the afternoon, he conducts another set of clinical rounds and allots time for administrative and academic responsibilities. Larson also precepts about 15 students per year from the MEDEX program in Seattle; the Heritage PA program in Toppenish, Wash.; and Marquette University’s PA program in Milwaukee.

“I like watching the light come on when students finally grasp a concept and understand what they’re doing,” he said about what he enjoys most about instructing. “It’s always been my goal to make complex things simple and simple things obvious.”

As Larson makes an indelible impact on the profession, his commitment to advancing his own skills is apparent in the way he “operates” too. He says, “From a surgical aspect, my attending physicians refer to me as MacGyver because I’m always trying to improve upon a surgical technique. I am also deeply influenced by the concepts illustrated in Anders Ericcson’s book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.”

As a Certified PA in a surgical role at a hospital, Larson has watched the profession expand into new areas of growth, such as administration and medical research, and influence healthcare delivery across a variety of clinical settings.

“I like that it is continuing to evolve,” he said. “It’s not the same profession as when I started. It’s an honorable profession, and I think it will stand the test of time.”

PA-C…Educator…Preceptor and now Co-author…Because he’s opened new lanes for the profession, Larson’s accomplishment is one for the history books.