From Mission Trips to a Career in Critical Care

Certified PA hero - mary herc

When she was in high school, Mary Herc, PA-C, MSPAS went on a mission trip that changed her life. She visited the Dominican Republic and saw firsthand the impact of access to quality health care on communities. After that trip, she knew she wanted a career in medicine. She enrolled in a dual degree program as a high school senior, completed her undergraduate courses in three years and began PA school during what would have been her fourth year of college.  

Herc is currently a full-time, certified surgical critical care PA at three Intensive Care Units in Philadelphia. On a typical workday, she starts her day at 7:00 AM reviewing patient notes, creating care plans for the day and meeting with the health care team to discuss patients’ critical care needs and any potential challenges.  

In addition, Herc sees patients throughout the day, puts in new orders and modifies existing orders for medications, imaging, and lab tests during rounds, and ensures that everything is up-to-date and in line with the plan for the day.  

While Herc’s day sounds very routine, the Trauma Center is anything but just procedures and rounds. 

 “As a Critical Care PA at a Level I Trauma Center, we see a lot of patients and their families on the worst day of their lives,” said Herc. “I feel very fortunate to support them as they navigate their emotions, medical decisions, and questions through every test, procedure, or complication.”  

When Herc started working as a Critical Care PA, she admitted a patient who was experiencing complications after surgery. Thanks to her medical education and training in PA school, Herc was able to intervene accurately to stabilize the patient. That experience affirmed her interest in and passion for critical care medicine.  

“I am very fortunate to work with a team of intelligent, highly skilled, dedicated, and supportive PAs and NPs,” said Herc. “Our culture at work is a very positive and encouraging environment that values teamwork and pride in what we do.”