I can still remember how loud it was in the back of the ambulance on the first call of my clinical rotation as an EMT student. The paramedic and AEMT were dispatched to a small apartment building for an older man who complained of chest pain. On the way to the ambulance, the man went limp on the stretcher and the EKG made the dreaded flat line beep. After rushing back to the ambulance, the paramedic ordered me to start by assisting respirations. While still not fully understanding was was about to happen, I grabbed the bag valve mask and started pushing breaths in, just as I had learned just a few classes earlier. The man’s skin was cold, wet, and hard to grasp. The paramedic and AEMT were yelling to each other over the sound of the LifePak’s instructions to set up the defibrillator. Before I knew it I was pushed out of the way while the limp body was pulled up like a dead fish and intubated. I somehow regained composure and refitted the mask to the new device and continued my job. Everything happened so fast that it became hard to follow. After what seemed like an eternity, I was instructed to stop because the man regained a pulse after the second shock and soon after I felt a breath. I was distraught, happy, and relieved once we delivered him safely and alive to the nearest hospital mere minutes after this chaotic event. When driving home later that day I was still experiencing the confusing array of emotions. After playing my small, yet significant, part in that man’s revival I decided that it was time to further my education and ultimately pursue a profession as a physician assistant.
I did not know that I wanted to become a PA when I applied for undergraduate Pre-Med programs. Initially I thought I wanted to be a doctor, since I wanted to help people and at the time I thought that was the best, most desirable way to approach that goal. It took a couple of years for me to realize that there are many different ways to go that also suited my interests; I then investigated other professions such as nurse, paramedic, nurse practitioner and physician assistant as possible alternatives. I was always interested in the diagnostic and problem solving nature of medicine which helped me remove paramedic and nurse from my search. I chose to forego the nurse practitioner route because I lack a nursing degree. When I looked at doctors and the PA profession side by side, I realized that there are many similarities but there was one important difference. The PAs ability to work in several different areas of medicine without going back to school or completing a residency. I already know I am interested in orthopedics but I am also very excited to learn more about general surgery and I can see myself practicing either. The amount of autonomy given to the PA accommodates my desire to challenge myself with new tasks in order to continue the lifelong learning process.
After shadowing several PAs I think that my personality fits the role of the position well. I embrace the roll of a facilitator and find that my best work comes when working as part of a team. I saw the importance of collaboration when I spent time in the operating room observing a surgical PA. It was fascinating how he was able to anticipate the surgeon's orders and execute them flawlessly to perform a smooth operation. The time that I spent at the hospital was invaluable when finalizing my decision to pursue this as a career. After following and questioning PAs in orthopedics, internal medicine, and the ER I was able to get a good understanding of both the rigors but more importantly the rewards of the profession.
Over the past year have spent my time working for Connecticut Orthopaedics, more specifically STAR Sports Therapy and shadowing at Yale-New Haven Hospital. I have learned many things in that time but above all I found that I love having the opportunity to provide patient care in addition to the healthcare environment. It was exciting to build rapport with patients on their road to recovery and the expression of self satisfaction that comes along with it. I have known for a long time that a job in healthcare was my dream. I have found the profession for which I am best suited to fulfill that dream and I am excited to take the long-awaited next step in making that a reality.