Meet Teresa Novak, PA-C, Family Practice Physician Assistant at Access Family Medicine (

Tell us a little about your business. – Access Family Medicine was founded by Dr. Todd Johnson and was the first Direct Primary Care clinic in Nebraska. DPC is a health care model which has become increasingly popular, due to both the high levels of patient satisfaction as well as healthcare cost savings. Ours is a membership-based, full-service family practice that offers increased access to your doctor or P.A. This includes the ability to call or text your provider directly, minimum 30-minute office visits with no copays, same or next-day appointments, wholesale prices on generic medications and lab tests and little or no wait time in the office. We have about 50 businesses who offer membership payments for their employees to provide healthcare benefits.

How did you get started in the business? – It was divine intervention! My last clinic position was not a good fit for me, my patients or my family. I heard about Access Family Medicine from a colleague. I shadowed Dr. Johnson at the clinic, where I found that direct primary care was not at all what I’d expected. I’d assumed it would be mostly for wealthy people who wanted extra attention and convenience from their doctor. I quickly learned that it is for people of ALL income levels. It gives them those same conveniences, and the membership costs often pay for themselves.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – Trying to find a life outside of work! Over my career, the demands from Medicare and health insurance companies have escalated. We’re working harder and longer every year, spending less time with each patient, and running farther behind with longer wait times. Each hour of time spent on direct patient care generates 30 to 60 minutes of paperwork for the provider. When an eight-hour day becomes a 15-hour day, no one can keep that pace without burning out. Clinicians change clinics, hoping (in vain) that it will be better at the next place. I am extremely grateful that I finally found DPC!

What has been your most important achievement professionally? – I’ve been so lucky to have had patients and families follow me for many years through several clinics, and who’ve recommended me to their friends and family members. This has been a huge honor, and those are the only accolades I need. I am disheartened that so many of them don’t know where I’m practicing now, and some others know, but don’t understand what DPC is about.

What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – Making the decision to go to P.A. school. I was a premed major in college at Doane, where I worked nearly full time to pay my own way through. After graduating, I was unable to afford medical school because I had maxed out my allowance for student loans. I didn’t initially consider P.A. school, as my college advisor told me it was a fad that wouldn’t be around for long. I took some low-paying, science-related jobs for two years after college. One day, I heard about a sorority sister who was attending P.A. school, and she described all the procedures and other cool things she got to do there (basically, the same things that I would have learned to do as an M.D.). It was less expensive, and the allowance for student loans had been increased, so I took the leap, hoping I could just make it work. The course work was brutal! Near the end of the program, I had to take out some “emergency loans” with 12% interest rates, but I paid every cent. Now, 33 years later, I am happy to have proved my college professor wrong!

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