Michael Patane ’05

Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies

Physician Assistant Coordinator, Robotic Surgery | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | New York City, N.Y.

Michael Patane jokes that all his years of playing video games have paid off.

That’s because today he works with consoles and computers of a different kind, in the field of robotic surgery. Patane is physician assistant coordinator for Minimal Access and Robotic Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

As part of a robotic surgery team, Patane’s responsibility is to make sure everything is in the right place and in order in the high-tech operating room, including docking and undocking the robot used in surgery. While the surgeon works at the console, Patane works in tandem at the operating room bedside, positioning the patient, changing instruments when necessary, and assisting where needed.

“All of the surgeries we perform are cancer-related, including head and neck procedures,” explains Patane. “It is still the surgeon utilizing his skills in operating but the difference is we use the latest computer technology to complement those skills.”

Patane says robotic surgery allows the surgeon to see in high definition 3-D, aiding in visualization and precision. The robotic arms have wrists that move similar to our own arms, so the surgeon can move any way needed.

A native of Fulton, N.Y., north of Syracuse, Patane initially thought he would go to Daemen to study physical therapy. When he heard about the physician assistant program and the fact that he could earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years, he switched majors. He lived on campus and immersed himself in activities, including serving as president of the Student Association and the Student Alumni Ambassadors.

“Through those activities, I interacted with alumni, faculty, and students, and that also prepared me well for what I do today,” he says. “My job requires interaction with surgeons, fellows, nurses, and patients. Having done that at Daemen, I know how to navigate the many different stakeholders I encounter.”

After earning his degrees, Patane did a one-year PA surgical residency at Yale University School of Medicine. He served as a surgery PA at a couple of hospitals in Syracuse and then moved to New York City in 2012. He has been with Memorial Sloan Kettering ever since.

As a PA, he can assist doctors in surgical procedures, but he himself is not licensed to perform surgery. He notes that other than that, the biggest difference between being a PA and a doctor is that the PA works under the supervision of a doctor.

Patane says he doesn’t have a lot of time to play video games these days as his work schedule is always changing. Besides, he points out, he and his husband, A.J., live in New York City where they have a never-ending list of museums, art galleries and theaters to visit, especially when friends and family visit.