About My Career Plan In Medicine

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“I am tired, I can’t do this anymore. Why me?” the patient groggily asked. She was shaking as tears flooded her eyes. I will never forget the look of desperation when her gaze met mine. Her name was Marie; she was 47-years old, single mother of three, and developed metastasized esophageal cancer which was spread to her brain.

It was the morning of my visit as a Patient Care Coordinator at Mountain View Convalescent Care Center and my third week visiting Marie as her health rapidly diminished. As heartbreaking as it was, I smiled at her as I gently stroked her worried grip on my hands as I wiped her tears, Marie’s hand slowly began to relax into mine as she returned the smile. The warmth that filled my heart every time her face lit up was something I never felt before.

I visited Marie at every chance I got to assist in her daily care, but more importantly, to spend time with her. Though she could not respond at times, I reassured her I was there, and continuously said “You are safe with me,” She gently squeezed my hand as she smiled at me through her worn-out gaze. That was my last memory with Marie.

It is difficult—feasibly impossible—to determine the significance of any moment. I did not know it then, but the day I met Marie was the defining moment where my passion for patient care became clear, and, ultimately, led me down the road towards becoming a physician assistant (PA).

At the start of college, it felt like everyone around me had a career plan. I found myself feeling lost with no sense of direction. I knew I was interested in medicine, but what was most important to me was to enter a profession where I could truly help people, specifically in underserved areas. Therefore, in pursuit of the profession that was right for me, I decided to focus my time on gaining experience in healthcare.

It was not until I became a Patient Care Coordinator and Office Manager at Gerinet Healthcare that I became familiar with the PA profession. Despite the long commute, I chose to visit our patients at Skilled Nursing Facilities, and at hospitals in Los Angeles County, because of their culturally diverse service areas and their emphasis on dedicating resources to serving the underprivileged and uninsured, such as Marie.

Being a single mother of two young children did not stop me to pursue my passion in medicine. I challenged myself and continued to work and gain the experience. I then started working for a Neurosurgeon as his Lead Medical Assistant then became his Clinic Administrator. He would allow me to assist him in pre and post ops, as well shadow him in surgeries. Despite the fact I had to find a sitter for my girls I would go to the hospital 4 in the morning to scrub in and assist with the surgeries either at hospitals, or surgery centers. Dr. Keshavarzi knew about my passion how much I want to be a PA his encouragement and support has been tremendously helpful.

As soon as I was given the opportunity to work closely with a PA in the care of patients, I knew that this was the right path for me and instantly got back on track in school. I realized that PAs have many benefits that a physician does not such as being able to work in any medical discipline and site with the ability to change specialties. Given my interest in several areas in medicine with an ongoing passion for learning, this is a very important advantage to me. I know I want to work in family medicine because it encompasses all aspects of health care from young children to the elderly but, above all, I want to practice in medically underserved areas as a multidisciplinary professional.

While working alongside PAs in various divisions, I was drawn to the impact PAs had on increasing patient access to care and the quality of care provided. I also saw how a PA’s role relies heavily on perceptive judgment, which coincides with their ability to think independently while practicing dependently with a physician.

To challenge myself further, I wanted to shadow a PA. I was able to get the opportunity to shadow an orthopedic PA at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute. This experience was very fascinating.

Working in the healthcare field has allowed me to become a more open-minded and empathetic individual. It has allowed me to work with people of all different socioeconomic statuses, religions, education levels, and ethnicities. I have had the opportunity to see a more humane side of people that I would otherwise not be able to. It has given me a clearer image of what I want from my life, what drives me, and what I want to achieve. I have grown professionally and personally while being able to provide compassionate care to others. It has allowed me to push myself to lengths that I did not think were possible. Since returning to school, I have learned that I enjoy confronting my fears and challenging myself while learning something new every day. I am eager and driven to take this desire to the next level and enrich my life with challenges and responsibilities that only the PA field can bring.

My experience with Marie and every other patient I have had the honor of providing care to are why I am so passionate about this field and determined to become a PA. No matter how long it took me to get here, I am truly grateful for every moment that has led me to this point in my life, and I am eager to get started. 

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