While growing up in Vietnam, I became aware of an underprivileged population that faced poor health, malnutrition, and a lack of education. Although I grew up in a middle-income family, the presence of poverty was unavoidable. As a little girl, I would join my grandma on trips to different orphanages to pass out food, clothes, and school supplies to children who were not as fortunate as I was. Through these experiences, I learned to be kind, empathic, and generous to others. After growing up and realizing the value and joy in helping others, I made it my goal to pursue a career in which I would get to help people. This new goal allowed me to move in a direction in which I would be making a difference in peoples’ lives.
I initially took interest in science in high school, and decided to continue to focus on it as a Biology major in college. While taking various health science courses, I fell in love with medicine and wanted to further explore different aspects of it. Through hours of volunteering and shadowing at a hospital, I discovered that my favorite part of medicine was patient interaction. As a new college graduate, I was fortunate to gain the rewarding experience of working as a hyperbaric technician, where I am now able to spend a significant amount of time caring and connecting with patients.
I love my job as a hyperbaric technician because I am able to make strong, personal connections with each of my patients, as they come in for treatment six days per week. Most importantly, I’ve come to understand the influence that healthcare providers have on their patient’s experience while dealing with illness. As a hyperbaric technician, I get to do exactly that. My job is to help patients with non-healing wounds who are at risk of amputation. The patients’ treatment plans can be intensive and slow moving, and as a result they become discouraged in maintaining their compliance. Therefore, I want to both stress the importance of consistent treatment to the patients, as well as create a positive space for the treatment environment. As the hyperbaric technician, I spend the most time with patients, and am therefore their advocate. I want to make sure that the patients are comfortable, and that they can approach me with any question and know that it will be answered. It is incredibly rewarding for me to be a part of such a healing process that helps patients both avoid amputation, and enables them to continue living their lives independently.
The patients’ appreciation that I witness has kept me passionate about the healthcare field. Physician assistants (PAs) spend extra time with patients, which is something I am familiar with as a hyperbaric technician. While shadowing PAs, I observed that they take time to understand a patient’s concerns, as well as educate them regarding their diagnosis and treatment plans. It was apparent to me that the PA I was shadowing was able to form valuable relationships with each patient, through his personable interactions and compassionate care. I knew from my first day shadowing that I belonged in this profession, and I was inspired, captivated, and eager to learn more.
As I continued to shadow, I realized that this profession was more tailored to my interests over other medical professions for a number of reasons. For example, I am an analytical thinker, which would allow me to form proper diagnoses and treatment plans for my patients. Since I adapt well to different situations, this opportunity would allow me to persistently challenge and mold myself to new experiences throughout my career. Additionally, I have an endless desire to learn, which is an opportunity that will be repeatedly offered to me while working closely with a physician. My humility allows me to accept constructive criticism, which will undoubtedly help me grow as a PA.
Although I am passionate about my job as a hyperbaric technician, I would like to be more involved in the diagnoses, treatment, and post-care of patients. Moreover, my primary goal is to build a positive relationship with patients that will foster trust and respect, which will ultimately lead to patient engagement in my recommendations for self-care. My compassion and desire to help people, as well as the knowledge I will gain in my studies, will be conducive to me being able to make a difference as a PA in patients’ lives.