HMHI Expert Spotlight: Q&A with France A. Davis, MSPAS, PA-C

May 22, 2021 1:00 PM

France A. Davis, MSPAS, PA-C portrait

France is an experienced and passionate physician assistant with a diverse background and over 13 years of experience. He was hired by the U of U Department of Psychiatry in 2019 as a core advanced practice provider in our Receiving Center and has quickly become a highly valued member of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute family.

As part of the incredible network of professionals at the University of Utah Huntsman Mental Health Institute, we were pleased France could share a bit of his story and what inspires him to come to work every day.

"The ability to connect with people through conversations and the desire I had to understand more about the psychological health of my patients grew into a passion. Psychiatry provided the best opportunity to explore this passion."

France A. Davis, MSPAS, PA-C

Q. What inspired you to become a physician assistant?

My father was a pastor and civil rights leader for over 40 years. He was hands-on and passionate about caring for others. I wanted to be like him and help people. He would literally give you the shirt off his back and all the money in his pocket. A lot of my father- son time as a child was spent visiting people in care centers and hospitals. I knew as a child I would not become a religious leader like him, but I saw that healthcare providers were those “other” people that could heal people’s minds, bodies, and souls. So I decided ultimately to follow that path.

Q. What is your area of specialization and why?

My area of specialty is psychiatry, with a focus on both general psychiatry and crisis stabilization. I also do some addiction medicine and have a strong interest in perinatal and reproductive psychiatry. I have always been interested in understanding people’s minds and the way they think and behave. I spent my first part of my career as a physician assistant in a combination of orthopedic spine and trauma surgery and pediatric orthopedic surgery. I began to recognize I was more interested in helping patients with the psychological struggles they faced as a result of their physical ailments. The ability to connect with people through conversations and the desire I had to understand more about the psychological health of my patients grew into a passion. Psychiatry provided the best opportunity to explore this passion. I have now been practicing psychiatry and addiction medicine for nine years.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you?

I get to work, log into my computer, and prepare patient morning medications. Next, I sit with my staff and discuss the recent unit patient admissions and plan out resources needed, discharge or transition options, or the next level of care required. I then work on potential new patient admissions and referrals from the community, patient referrals from multiple emergency departments, and referrals from our clinical assessment and admissions center. Between seeing patients for discharge and admission to the 23-hour stabilization Receiving Center, I carve out time to see three-to-four Same-Day Outpatient Clinic appointments. Once I finish the Same-Day clinic visits, I review information for more possible patient admissions if we still have room on our crisis unit.

Q. What are the most challenging aspects of your role?

There are a couple of difficult parts of my job. First, splitting my time efficiently between patients on our crisis unit and patients in the outpatient Same-Day clinic can be challenging. Second, most of the patients I see are in crisis, and we have 23 hours to stabilize their symptoms. I always want people to improve the most under my care as quickly as possible, but there are many times where stabilization can’t happen in the time allotted. Often, patients will require other levels of care. So, the challenging part for me is realizing that I can’t always help everyone to the extent desired or expected.

Q. What is the most interesting and/or rewarding part of your job?

The most interesting part of my job is the patients. Everyone has a story. Sometimes the stories move you to smile. Other times, those stories move you to tears. Whatever the story, I find the differences and similarities in people’s journeys through life to be fascinating. Seeing how my work as a physician assistant in psychiatry positively impacts people’s lives and the lives of their families makes me feel good. It is also extremely rewarding to work with some of the brightest, most hardworking, and driven providers, social workers, mental health technicians, and supporting staff. I love what I do!

France Davis pictured with his wife and his father
Psychiatric Physician Assistant, France Davis, pictured with his wife and his father

Q. What do you like to do when you are not at work?

When I am not at work, I spend time with my wife and three children. I love traveling and taking road trips, and if Disneyland was in Utah or if Utah was by the ocean, I would probably have to quit my job. I also like watching movies or working out (or doing both at the same time).

Q. Why did you decide to come to Utah / stay in Utah?

My wife and I are both from Utah. We both moved away after high school for school and work opportunities. After we got married, our goal was to start a family. We wanted our children to grow up near their grandparents, so we moved back!

France is a board certified physician assistant with a demonstrated history of working in psychiatry, addiction medicine, and clinical neuroscience research. France has a Master’s of Science degree in clinical medicine and physician assistant studies from Marywood University and a Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology and theology from Georgetown University.

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