“I’ll race you to the top of the hill!” shouted my brother, Rodney. He beat me by a few milliseconds and then, in Lima, Peru, where my family was visiting me, my brother collapsed. The heavy air bore down on my shoulders as thoughts raced through my head: Was he going to be okay? Would I be able to translate medical Spanish? My mom’s shrieks pierced through the fog in my brain. Rodney gasped, “I. Can’t. Move.” The paramedics finally arrived, and as they spoke in rapid-fire Spanish, my mom’s eyes darted frantically between them and me. I translated, “They believe Rodney is just exhausted from traveling here and that he needs rest, not the hospital.” My mom breathed a sigh of relief and peered down at Rodney, “Thankfully you have your brother to take care of you.” I smiled, but I was overcome by inadequacy and desire: I wished I could have done more than just serve as a translator.
My diverse experiences have prepared me for the physician assistant profession, and reaffirmed my desire to pursue this career. PAs can spend a large amount of time with patients, something that doctors cannot possibly do. As a lifelong learner, the flexibility of a PA to practice in different fields of medicine along their career path appeals to me. I am currently interested in emergency medicine and dermatology, and the chance to pursue both specialties is exciting to me. In addition, PAs work either in a team or independently to analyze symptoms, and diagnose and treat patients; I am comfortable working alone, but always seek out opportunities for collaboration. My passion for this profession has driven me to better myself so I can better the lives of my future patients.
In my role as a patient care tech on the transitional care unit, I have honed the patient care skills necessary to succeed as a PA. One day, at 6:30 a.m., shouts rang through the otherwise quiet unit. Lisa, the night tech, informed me that the shouts were coming from Naomi, an older lady who had been admitted for shortness of breath. She also explained that Naomi suffered from severe anxiety. Eager to help, I walked to her room, opened the door, and asked, “Naomi, what can we do for you?” Her brow wrinkled with worry as she replied, “I can’t breathe.” I asked the night nurse if she could help Naomi while I received the rest of report. I told Naomi that the nurse would be there soon and instructed her to take a few deep breaths with me while we waited. Lisa shook her head and said she’d tried deep breathing with her already, and that it hadn’t worked. After the report finished, I swung back around to check on Naomi and heard her yelling again. I sat at the bedside chair and held her hand. “We need to order your breakfast, Naomi. What would you like?” She finally smiled, and I realized then the impact my mere presence and touch could have. I smiled too, but I longed to be a part of the team solving Naomi’s problems, not just comforting her while we waited for someone else to do the work.
To gain a deeper insight into the PA profession, I shadowed Amy, a PA in orthopedics. As Amy briefed a patient during pre-op rounding, she carefully grasped the patient’s hand. She reassuringly said, “You’re in good hands. Your knee replacement surgery should take around two hours and afterwards you will spend the night in the hospital. I will make sure you have all your medications.” I followed Amy’s footsteps out the door and to the OR. In the OR, I observed as the surgery team prepped for surgery and how Amy meticulously scrubbed the incision site with iodine. Amy steadily held the patient’s leg as Dr. Andersen began the surgery. I marveled at the assortment of hues, including the blue gowns worn by Dr. Andersen, Amy, and the scrub tech; the gleaming silver of stainless steel instruments; the red blood spilling from the incision; and the pink, yellow, and white of tissues inside the body. The surgery team calmly followed Dr. Andersen’s every direction until the hammering and drilling came to a stop. Dr. Andersen finished and handed the reins over to Amy. I watched in awe as Amy led the suturing and post-op care for the patient. I left the OR with a smile of excitement and intrigue, daydreaming about a future in which I was part of such an organized, life saving healthcare team.
Although my experiences in healthcare have been vast and varied, each of them has instilled in me the desire to do more. As a PA, I could practice medicine, but I could also continue to connect with my patients on a human level. With the right education and training, I am confident I would make a knowledgeable, compassionate, and smiling PA.