Throughout my pre-physician assistant journey, I have learned not to take any opportunity or experience for granted: to learn from those around me. Success is determined by my approach to the opportunity in front of me and what I decide to make out of the experience.
At ten, I suffered a nearly fatal asthma attack. Gordon, the physician assistant involved in my pulmonary care, spent the most time teaching me about asthma. As I learned of lung capacity, allergens, and genetics, my view of the medical world deepened. My PFT’s became the interactive “classroom” by which the fun and compelling side of healthcare was revealed. Gordon and his team gave outstanding care, and their adoration of the medical field was an early inspiration to me.
My education at University solidified my interest in the medical field. I began college extremely optimistic about my Nutrition major. Each course offered a notable perspective on how nutrition coincides with disease prevention and treatment. As I progressed, I realized that nutrition, as powerful a field as any, encompasses only one component of health. I remembered the pa I encountered as a child. Gordon’s impact was so powerful, that in declaring my lungs “normal”, he had moved my mother to tears and essentially saved my life. I desired to impact lives beyond nutritional intervention, much like mine had been impacted.
After carefully researching the pa profession, I realized additional coursework was needed. I felt unwavering confidence as I re-enrolled and felt as if nothing could get in my way. Life, however, had a different plan for me again. Over 3 months, I endured the passing of two cherished family members. So along with myself, my entire family did their best to put the pieces back together and move on with life. Needless to say, this impacted me in a very tangible way, as my grades suffered that semester. I have since made significant strides to improve my GPA, showing that I can remain both dedicated and emotionally resilient in the face of grief.
Where my coursework uncovered the relationship between science and medicine, my clinical experience connected me to the impetus behind medicine, the courageous people-their emotions, concerns, struggles, and triumphs. I have assisted with the care of others during surgery, in the hospital, and most recently in the out-patient primary care clinic. While the depth of human suffering is at times outrageous and the iterations of disease puzzling, it was at the [medical center] where I had my most meaningful experiences and closest pa interactions. I was closely mentored by [redacted], one of the senior physician assistants on site. He, in turn, collaborated with colleagues, MDs, and nurses, turning to staff when obstacles were met.
Working alongside this team, aside from strengthening my clinical skills, I realized that practicing medicine is not an individual pursuit, rather a collective and patient-oriented commitment to excellence. I also learned the importance of celebrating my small victories, such as providing comfort to [redacted], a 65-year-old woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer during one of my shifts. Seeing her tearfulness during a routine vitals check, and at a loss for words, I held her hand hoping to make things more bearable. Her reply, a gentle “thank you”. Though not always tangible, moments like this fill me with such intense joy and a sense of peace and have been integral in preparing me for a future career in medicine.
Admittedly, practicing as a physician assistant requires more than the contextual understanding of diagnoses and treatment. Being truly exceptional requires empathy, dedication, passion, and a love of problem-solving. These are all skills I have developed through years of experiential learning and shadowing inspirational physician assistants. My observation hours have taken me from the innovations of the pain management clinic with [redacted] to the fast-paced intensities of the ICU with [redacted]. I palpated tension knots in preparation for trigger point injections, examined EKGs, and interpreted the ABCs of x-ray. I even caught a glimpse of the exposed heart and lungs during a stent placement. Nothing proved too disturbing or nauseating for me. In truth, I was eager for more.
People are not machines who are programmed to face identical issues. They deserve infinitely curious physician assistants who continually challenge new advents in medicine. Yes, I have stumbled throughout my pre-physician assistant journey, but I have recovered and matured beyond measure. My future patients deserve a physician assistant who knows how to transform difficulties into unlimited opportunities, from which, essential goals can be achieved. When I earn a slot in your program, I can promise that I will not let up on my determination to succeed until I have done so and made your program, myself, and this profession so immensely proud.