Former Army medic Daniel Barry feels at home as Physician Assistant in Downieville clinic
Downieville is a great fit for Daniel Barry.
The community, where the elevation is 10 times more than the number of residents, is just what the former Army medic-turned-Physician Assistant ordered on his career wish list.
“In primary care, it’s as good as it gets,” says Barry, who joined Western Sierra Medical Clinic in late-spring 2021.
The Downieville clinic allows Barry to connect with and get to know his patients, while putting all of his medical experience and training to work.
As the only primary care provider at the Downieville clinic – and one of only a few within 30 miles – Barry treats everything from deep lacerations to helping patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
“I like the full spectrum of responsibility,” says Barry, who even draws blood from patients for lab testing. “I see just about everything. I like the people, and I have the ability to keep a closer eye on them. Sometimes you can do more for patients in a small town.”
It’s a busy, demanding job but Barry has embraced the challenge – and the community. He often makes house calls, especially for patients who can’t drive to the clinic, and about 30% of his visits are via telephone or video.
“There is some real value to telemedicine,” he says. “For instance, I’ve had good success managing diabetes over the phone.”
As a Physician Assistant, Barry works closely with primary care physicians at Western Sierra, seeking their advice and expertise when necessary.
“Being a successful physician assistant depends on the support from collaborating physicians,” says Barry, most recently a Physician Assistant at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in northern Idaho.
It’s critical, especially in a rural community where air ambulances are necessary to transport patients with life-threatening conditions or injuries to Chico or Reno hospitals.
In some ways, Downieville’s remoteness is similar to when he was a medic with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y., including serving as a medical team leader in an Infantry company in Iraq.
“Being remote is definitely familiar, especially with the transportation challenges and the lack of resources nearby,” says Barry, who spent six years in the military.
After he left the Army, Barry attended and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Boise State University in 2011. He earned a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from Idaho State University in 2014.
Barry, who grew up near Boise, has worked mostly at health clinics in rural communities. The small-town feel, where residents know and depend on each other, is a good fit.
“From my experience, I feel more comfortable working in small towns,” he says. “I like people who live in rural towns, they’re very appreciative.”
And Downieville – and its few hundred residents – are making him feel right at home.
“I like the setting, the size of the town,” says Barry, who enjoys the outdoors, especially hiking. “I’ve had a positive reception from the community.”