Lisa Brozovich was attending classes at the University of Utah when she decided to take some time off and move to Alaska. She had always been interested in visiting the northernmost state and managed to find a job in Prudhoe Bay, working at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It was there that, unexpectedly, she met with the inspiration that would lead a a lifelong career as a physicians assistant.
"While I was working up there, PAs took care of us, and I went 'Aha! This is what I want to do,'" Brozovich said.
After just over a year at Prudhoe Bay, she returned to the university. Over the next few years she split her time between Utah and Alaska, working hard and earning her bachelor of science degree in medical sociology and gerontology. The money she made in Alaska also helped pay her way through physicians assistant certification at the Yale School of Medicine.
Last month, Brozovich celebrated her 20th anniversary of working as a PA at High Country Health Care.
Born in Switzerland while her father was finishing up his Ph.D. work in biochemistry, Brozovich relocated to Fort Collins at age 9 months and grew up there. Though not a Swiss citizen, she has been back to the country of her birth twice and traveled throughout Southern Europe.
Brozovich has lived in Summit County now for 31 years, currently in Breckenridge.
"It's home," she said.
Upon arrival, she worked at a family practice urgent care with Aris Sophocles on French Street for three years. She spent three more years working at Vail-Summit Orthopedics and then some time with Kaiser in Denver. After the birth of her daughter, Alyson, Brozovich decided she didn't want to commute to Denver every day and started looking for another Summit County position. She found it with Dr. Charles Lackey. Lackey and his partner, Dr. Pat Duletsky, were Frisco Family Practice, before High Country Healthcare.
"They weren't advertising, I just told them they needed me," Brozovich said with a laugh. She started working part-time.
Brozovich kept on with Lackey as the practice continued and after more than six years began working with the school-based health center. During her 13 years it expanded from the high school to include the middle school, Silverthorne Elementary and Dillon Valley Elementary. She also volunteers at the community care clinic and other locations throughout the county.
One of the reasons Brozovich decided to become a PA was the personal interaction with patients.
"I was interested in working with people when I was in college," she said. Now, the patients that she treated as children are young adults in their 20a and 30s, many of whom she still treats from time to time. They come home from college, some from jobs and some have stayed within the county. For those who don't come back, she gets all the information from their family members.
"That's what I like about family practice," she said. "You know what's going on in the whole family."
Communicating with all patients is important to Brozovich. When she realized that the Spanish-speaking population in Summit County was quickly growing, she took action. First she studied the language, particularly medical vocabulary, at Colorado Mountain College. When that wasn't enough, she enrolled herself in a two-week Spanish language immersion program in Antigua, Guatemala. Back in Summit County, she keeps up her practice with a group of friends.
"It's been fun," she said, and also profitable, as she uses her language skills now on a daily basis.
During her time in Summit County, Brozovich has witnessed many changes, not only within her job but within the county itself.
Age groups, for instance, have fluctuated. Brozovich said the older population is growing and more numerous than before. There has also been a shift in culture and backgrounds, with more people coming into the county from places outside of the United States.
"I think that broadens the richness," Brozovich said.
Now she sometimes has to deal with foreign ideas of medicine and find a way to explain the reasons behind her treatments, which are different than some patients are used to. For example, impressing upon the need to take certain medications continually, like blood pressure pills, instead of just once as a one-time cure.
"Some people have never had ongoing medical like that," she explained.
Looking back over her more than 20 years of medical service in Summit County, Brozovich obviously still believes she's in the right place and the right profession. When she first decided to be a PA, back in Alaska, she thought, "This is perfect." Now, she adds, "And it has been. I lucked out."