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As I hear my name echo throughout the cold walls my heart begins to pound, the jitters always set in when they begin the pre-operation check list. Over and over again they ask you: what leg is it, the right or the left and in my mind all I can ask is, do you not see the huge cast and purple markings screaming: “THIS IS THE HURT LEG” at you? I find myself constantly reminded that they are just doing their job, that at some point someone messed up and cut into the wrong leg but when you are only a fourth grader going into surgery, it becomes hard to care. At one point in time all the doctors seem the same, all the voices jumble together and the anesthesiologist’s jokes become less and less funny. Then suddenly, with one deep breath the tension diffuses from my body, my thoughts evaporate quickly and I find myself in a natural, free-flowing state; I am under.\


This was not my first experience at the hospital. At this point I was on my second broken leg- this school year, a 19 stitches wrist accident and 4 sprained ankles, not to mention a couple other encounters I was too young to remember. However, it was the first time I realized what bad and good healthcare really felt like. To me, medical professionals are presented with an amazing opportunity to affect and even change people’s lives. As you enter a medical facility, it’s as if you are entering a foreign country- the language changes, terms are used you have never heard before and the doctor’s writing is more like a kindergarteners scribble when first learning how to write. My physician assistant made all the difference when I first entered this foreign country. I had broken my leg into a million pieces, maybe not quite a million but it was shattered, during a snow skiing accident. The doctor performing my surgery had a difficult time, was not very personable and to a recently turned eleven year old felt like I was going to see the Grinch, on Christmas Eve. But to my physician assistant it wasn’t just a job; she legitimately wanted to see me get well. While the grown-ups would discuss what was happening in their own, completely different language she was always there to tell me what was happening in a way I would understand. She became more than just a physician assistant, she became my friend and as I used to call her “my own assistant”. After I awoke from surgery “my assistant” was there with a red popsicle to help my dry throat, just like she promised and greeted me with an equally as big smile as my parents had.    


Fast forward a few years, a few more surgeries and hospital visits and I am now at the University of Florida. It did not take me very long to realize college was not high school. My freshmen year I found myself lost. I knew no one, I knew nothing, and to top it all off I knew I definitely did not love math the way I believed I did. So I decided to switch gears and wanted to try out a pre-veterinarian tract.

Sophomore year rolled around and I was still attempting to find myself, along with graduate a year early and attempt to work to pay for school. If I thought my world was teetering at this point, it was about to become engulfed by a wave of devastation. During the fall semester someone very close to me was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer.  My world was destroyed; the only glimmer of hope that remained was the fact that he was receiving treatment at Shands Hospital- at the University of Florida. I went from a normal college kid just trying to have fun and semi-outlive the “C’s get degrees” mentality to not knowing what each day was going to bring and not knowing how much I could truly handle emotionally.  This man had been like a second dad to me and my sister, had taken us to school, picked us up, fed us, bathed us as children and was the epitome of strong. I intended to spend every ounce of my free time visiting him, praying that he would get better; that his family, our family would not have to see him like this. During the spring semester, cancer had finally won the battle. Though, his passing was one of the toughest moments in my life, I was reminded that other people were in the same situation as George. The patients and their loved ones were relying on the medical staff at Shands to provide them with the same kindness, dedication and compassion that was shown to us.


So, as I entered my third and final year at UF I had finally found myself. I realized that I wanted to be able to do more for the patient than just watch as they die, I wanted to be apart of their journey to recovery. I began to research my options and positions in the medical field when I was quickly reminded of “my assistant” from all those years ago. Why couldn’t that be me? Why couldn’t I change George’s life or my own life for the better in difficult situations such as my physician assistant and others do every day? As I have shadowed physician assistant, and worked in the hospital setting as a CNA/PCA I have encountered the responsibilities of a physician assistant, I have interacted with them and seen first-hand what the job can require, the good and the bad and I am ready to begin my journey to helping change people’s lives. 



Let me know how you like it, improvements, if I should emphasize or delete something! It's a rough draft for a reason!

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