How is it that sometimes we find our purpose in tragedy. I lost my grandma to diabetes. Diabetes did not take mercy on her. It took her slowly, until there was nothing else to take. It started with her kidneys, they slowly stopped functioning, so she had to be placed on dialysis. Lucky for her, my aunts cared enough to be trained on the process, and she was able to have it done in her home, that's if you consider that lucky. The next thing diabetes took was her sight. It continued taking from her until there was nothing more to take. As if losing your sight was not enough, it took the sensation off of her feet, then it decided to take her toes and eventually her feet. What happens to a person that needs to be dialyzed every other day, can no longer see or walk? They slowly lose their will to live, until one day, that will is completely gone. It is an extremely difficult thing to watch someone you love, suffer on a daily basis. At the end of their journey, you find comfort in knowing that they are no longer suffering, but you also wonder, is there anything I could have done to prevent this? To my previous question, the PA profession was my answer.
I believe that most medical problems can be prevented with the right care and knowledge, and if they cannot be prevented, they can be stopped from progressing. I want to become a PA because I want to keep people and their families from experiencing the pain my family and I went through with my grandma. I know it is not possible to save everyone, but I want the opportunity to at least try. I have always known I wanted to be a part of the medical field. Every time someone asks me, why do you want to be a physician assistant, my response is always because I cannot imagine being anything else. I placed myself in a job that would allow me to experience the duties of a physician assistant. I have seeing the ins and outs. I have been a part of it, not as a PA, but as scribe that works very closely with them in the clinic or in the emergency department. Every day, I am amazed by their skills and knowledge. I learn something new, a new approach, a new technique, a new diagnosis, a new treatment with every shift, and I just want to keep on learning. I have learned how to differentiate a Bell's Palsy from a TIA or a stroke. I have learned the importance of the NIH stroke scale and the importance of properly assessing the score. I can tell you that a sudden sharp pain to your back and a positive CVA most likely means a kidney stone or pyelonephritis due to a urinary tract infection. A pain to your RLQ with a high white blood cell count and a positive McBurney's point could definitely be a sign for acute appendicitis or how an elevated amylase/lipase level accompanied by nausea and vomiting probably means pancreatitis, especially if that pain occurs after eating greasy/spicy foods. I have loved every single minute of working as a scribe. I cannot wait to start this career and apply everything I have and will learn. Physician assistants are not afraid or intimidated by how complicated a patient might be because of how prepared they are. They have this confidence because if they have a question about how to proceed with a patient, they have the benefit of consulting with the attending physician. There are limitations to how much we know, which is why this is one of the great benefits of the physician assistant career. My main goal as a provider would be to offer the best care to a patient, and knowing that I have the opportunity to ask for help or guidance from the supervising attending would allow me to do that. I also like the flexibility of the PA career. As a PA, you have the opportunity to work in different specialties, for me that is essential because I have multiple interests. I love working in the clinic setting as well as the ER, and by becoming a PA, I would have the opportunity to work in both.
As a scribe working in the clinic, I have seen the high demand and need for PA's in South Texas, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. The Valley is a highly underserved area, especially when it comes to healthcare. The doctor I work with, has over 1,000 patients assigned to her. If it were not because of the PA's, she would not be able to provide the care they deserve. They make a huge difference. The gratitude they receive from the patients is unlike any other. I love South Texas and know that I can positively impact the community when it comes to their medical needs
My goal is to enroll into a PA program that will prepare me with the adequate skills and knowledge that are necessary to provide the best medical attention the people from The Valley deserve. I know that the PA journey will be challenging and difficult, I am counting on it. I know this career requires excellence, and I am prepared to give it all that I have in order to succeed as a physician assistant. I understand my grades my first three semesters are not the best. It was not easy adapting to college after being in the same school for 12 years. Those grades do not reflex who I am as a student, once I adapted and found a new study method that works for me, my GPA improved. . I will continue to work until this goal has been achieved
This is a very rough draft. I would just like to know if I am on the right track. Any editing is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”– Lewis Carol. I do not have a single, life changing moment that made me realize that I want to be a physician assistant. I do have many experiences that confirm the truth of Carol’s statement. Three of which are significant and led me to pursue a career as a physician assistant: Meeting Traci, the PA I met while observing an ACL reconstruction; Working with Ron, a patient I had as a physical therapy aide; and treating Charlie, the boy I spine boarded for a cervical injury.
An opportunity as an athletic training student to observe an ACL and meniscus reconstruction was my first exposure to a PA. In the OR, the clank of the surgical tools, smell of the sanitary operating room mixed with my breath under the facemask, and banter of the medical team as they worked hooked me immediately. After an incision of the patient’s uninjured left knee to retrieve the patellar tendon graft, Dr. Smith said, “Traci, harvest the graft. Don’t make it too thick. The edges need to be as smooth as possible.” Traci carefully and confidently harvested the ACL graft from the patellar tendon. She worked with great precision as she molded it with a small pair of scissors. Occasionally, Traci consulted with Dr. Smith to make sure the size and shape of the graft were correct. That moment, that was it for me. I loved the independence she was given and the team based relationship between her and Dr. Smith. Before observing this surgery, I did not know much about Traci’s profession as a PA. Although half way through my undergraduate athletic training program, I began to explore the career of a physician assistant. The fact that PAs can specialize in many areas of medicine is appealing. Although I enjoy orthopedics, I am interested in other fields such as general surgery, pediatrics, and women’s health. (Need to expand on why I like this more than AT)
My job as a physical therapy aide to assist patients with their exercises, educate on proper form, and apply modalities. Ron is mentally challenged and has severe loss of musculoskeletal motor control. He slowly scooted into the physical therapy clinic with his walker and two caretakers that Tuesday afternoon. He was wearing a bright red Red’s baseball t-shirt, a worn, blue baseball cap, athletic shorts, and black shoes, one of which had a heel lift. The endearing smile on his face and childish banter with the therapist and me lit up the room.
Ron and I practiced activities I took for granted every day. Sitting in a chair from a standing position, and standing up again from a seated position, walking 10-15 feet with his walker, and standing without the walker. He would say over and over, “I did enough” when he was only half way through his repetitions. I could see the frustration in his big blue eyes; it was hard for Ron to stay focused. I promised Ron that if he did his absolute best and finished his exercises with me, we could watch baseball highlight reels during his rest periods. The sense of accomplishment Ron felt when he finished an exercise overwhelmed me with joy. I was proud of Ron for his diligence and hard work. Ron taught me the importance of listening, patience, compassion and understanding. Sincere connections with patients involve empathy and adjusting to individual patient needs. I will carry the lessons I learned from Ron into my career as a PA, just as I do now in my job as an athletic trainer.
Pushed himself beyond his threshold
During the third week of July this past summer, the entire hockey camp staff was standing on the ice over my shoulder as I held fully padded, little Charlie’s neck in cervical spinal immobilization. “Laney, what do you want to do? Should we call 911? Is he going to be OK?” I had seconds to make a decision that could alter the rest of Charlie’s life. I learned how to deal with spinal injuries in school, but had never done it in practice. I responded, “Yes, call a squad and tell them we have a cervical spine injury. It’s okay Charlie; you’re going to be fine, just lay still. I’m going to tell you a funny story about my dog, Digby.” That was it. I was not positive that Charlie had a cervical spine injury, but I was confident in my evaluation that he needed further care. Charlie laughed as I told him about puppy Digby’s fear of the plastic spoon.
EMS and the other athletic trainer working hockey camp, Becca, showed up minutes later. When treating a possible spinal injury, the person immobilizing the neck takes the lead in the boarding process. This was my job in this situation. It is crucial to be able to lead and work with the medical team at hand to prevent further injury. “OK on 3 we are going to roll Charlie. Please slide the board under his back when we roll him. 1, 2, 3, roll. Great job. Those near Charlie’s legs can apply the securing straps while those of us near his upper body will apply the C-collar and chest straps. Excellent, thank you for your help.” I was extremely nervous during this entire experience, doubting myself every second, but it reassured me that I will succeed as a physician assistant. I overcame my nerves and used the knowledge in which I was confident would provide the best quality care for Charlie. As an athletic trainer, the nature of injury in sports has molded me into a quick thinker. I enjoy working with others to achieve the best possible outcome, which I believe will transition well into my career as a physician assistant.
I’ve had many experiences throughout my various healthcare jobs that led to my decision to become a PA. Traci, Ron, and little Charlie stand out among my experiences. The independence and teamwork Traci displayed in the operating room caught my eye for the PA profession. Ron taught me that having patience and empathy is crucial in gaining patient trust. Overcoming the doubts I had in myself and leading a situation I had never led before, taught me that I have a qualities to be a successful physician assistant. Becoming a physician’s assistant provides the opportunity to put Lewis Carol’s wisdom into practice; connect on a personal level, capitalizing on the relationship to provide truly patient-focused health care.
I have finally submitted! Hopefully it gets verified quickly.
By 1989hopeful PA
As a child I had moments when I would stare off into space as if my brain was not connected to the rest of my body. My parents were worried so they took me to a pediatric neurologist. The diagnosis was Juvenile Absence Epilepsy and it began a journey of blood tests, EEGs, MRIs and checkups for the next six years of my life. For a child, it was a bit unnerving, but when I began to see the same person at every visit I became more comfortable. I called the woman “Dr. Theresa” and she became the calming presence, someone who monitored my medication and assured me everything was fine. When I learned “Dr. Theresa” was actually a Physician Assistant, I was surprised. She did everything I imagined a doctor would do, she explained my treatment plan, wrote prescriptions, and always took the time to ask about my life and concerns.
I was intrigued by this woman who had many similar responsibilities of a doctor. What would have normally been a traumatic childhood experience actually became a blessing. This unique opportunity allowed me to be exposed to a PA at a young age and prompted my decision to become a healthcare provider. I began to volunteer in my community and take every opportunity to learn about this career path. I wanted to be around people who helped others. I volunteered at food drives for homeless veterans, collected clothes for orphanages and foster children and fundraised for the families who lost their homes in the 2003 Cedar Fire in Alpine, CA.
I also had the opportunity to work with young children through the 4-H Equine Group within the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter. Most of the children I worked with were Autistic, which allowed me to learn effective ways to communicate in nonconventional ways. For example, one boy used only lyrics from songs by The Beatles to commutate to me, so I had to brush up on Beatles! The sad songs meant he was in pain or a bad mood and the more upbeat songs meant he was feeling excited and happy. This experience became the catalyst for focusing my efforts to become a PA.
In college, my most rewarding volunteer experience was working at The Challenge Center, a physical therapy rehabilitation center for patients who suffered from brain and spinal cord injuries, congenital defects or chronic debilitating diseases. Having obtained my Assisted Fitness Trainer certification, I was able to work with patients one-on-one. It was a true test for me to see whether or not I could handle a full patient load while attending school full time. I tracked the progress and charted the stats for each of my patients. I felt like a true healthcare provider during my time at The Challenge Center because I was able to change or “prescribe” the patient’s workout regimen. The workouts made a difference, not only on the patient’s physical abilities, but also on their attitudes and outlook on life. While working in the physical therapy field taught me a great deal about patient care, I felt more passionate about the role a PA plays in healthcare.
Wanting to learn more about the profession, I shadowed a Physician Assistant named Alison. I observed her patients’ conditions and how she determined the course of treatment for each situation. She displayed the patience, kindness and professionalism that it takes to be a successful PA. I remember an instance with an elderly woman who was nervous about her biopsy results. Alison explained the outcome to her in a manner that put her at ease. Alison’s dedication to her patients reminded me of the care I received as a child with JAE and reinforced my decision to become a PA.
On the academic front, my early academic transcripts show a lack of focus. Freshman year of college was a difficult transition for me. I was exposed to the dual pressures of prioritizing my schoolwork and enjoying the freedom of living on my own. I was not mature enough to know that my early decisions would negatively affect my future chances of getting into PA school. I began taking courses to work toward my undergraduate degree in kinesiology, but knew PA school was the ultimate goal. My grades steadily improved and I ended up with nearly straight A’s during my final two years, even repeating some courses to make my application more competitive. I believe my freshman year struggles allowed me to become more mature, more focused and more determined to achieve my goal of becoming a PA.
My dream is now within reach. There will be an extreme need for primary care providers as a result of the restructuring of health care in this country and Physician Assistants will be at the forefront of the movement toward more affordable, accessible, and reliable healthcare. PAs will be the gatekeepers of the health care industry and will positively affect countless lives. I look forward to helping contribute to improving the health of patients in need.
"Excuse me, excuse me!" I cried out frantically, as I had just received news that my grandmother had been moved to a nursing facility due to her Alzheimer's condition worsening. I rushed over to the front nurse's station to ask which room she was in and was escorted to her room. Bright fluorescent lights lit up the hallway as I nervously gathered my thoughts on how I could greet my grandmother, the one who had raised me from childhood and became a second mother to me as well. I had brought over her favorite purple orchids in order to brighten her mood and with hope that maybe she could recognize the familiarity of the connection to me. To my relief, my grandmother recognized me instantly, and continued to recognize me till her last day in nursing care.
Placing my grandmother in a nursing care facility was the most heartbreaking decision my family had to make, but we put in the effort to visit her every day. About eight months into her stay at the nursing home, she caught pneumonia which deteriorated her health in a blink of an eye. The nightmare didn’t just end here; the weakening of her body opened the door to other various health problems as well, which led to frequent visitations to the hospital. This is where I met my first physician assistant and grew profound respect for them. While my grandmother’s physician came in and out of her room for quick visitations, it was her PA that seemed to help close the gap of disparities in the healthcare system by providing a more personalized care to the patients. I was also able to recognize the clear and solid support that the PA provided in the context of the physician-PA framework. Her PA also first tended to my grandmother’s stomach abnormality and diagnosed the root cause of her abdominal distention and provided the appropriate treatment for it. I was very intrigued to see a mid-level provider take part in such crucial role between the supervising physician and the nurses, working as a collaborative team to ensure the highest patient care possible. Having worked as a buyer in a procurement department for three and a half years, I thoroughly loved the “team-based” approach with the head buyers and my vendors and customers. However, I had left the career as I’ve always felt that the satisfaction from thriving upon sales and profit wasn’t fully there for me. Witnessing my grandmother’s PA work with such compassion and professionalism towards the well-being of a human being inspired my initial interest in the profession.
With this new ray of motivation, I recently became a clinical care extender volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange through COPE’S Health Solution, a program that is designed to give access to direct patient care to pre-health professionals, to see where I stood in terms of interacting and caring for the ill. My duties consisted of providing basic patient care such as feeding, bathing, taking their vital signs, and most importantly, providing unconditional love at their most vulnerable times. However, despite the satisfaction that I received from knowing that even a single minute of my time given to patients can have a significant positive impact in their lives, I also felt a sense of frustration due to the limitations of what I could provide for them as a volunteer. My determination to take my education and skills to the next step where I can provide more than just bedside care increased. I observed the nurses and their assistants and admired them for their recognizable diligence and compassion, but their roles still didn’t satisfy the goals that I was looking.
On the contrary, I found it a blessing that I was able to encounter a handful of PAs on the floor who were able to answer many lingering questions for me that I had regarding their profession. I realized that being a PA is what would fulfill my dream in achieving the type of patient care that I wish to provide. Through the intensive and advanced PA training, I will provide medical care without having to be a physician, and still get to partake in a variety of tasks from diagnosing to giving physical exams to more specialized care such as assisting with surgeries. This is very appealing to me because I love doing a variety of different types of tasks that specialize in flexibility.
Next year, I look forward to starting my education as a PA student. Overall, my interests and experiences have prepared me well to pursue a career as a PA. My strong academic background in science and extensive knowledge of the human body will help me excel in my PA school courses. Additionally, my sensitivity towards patients and interest in their well-being will allow me to become a compassionate PA. Volunteering at St. Joseph on various floors has also allowed me to learn the difference between each health provider and has also confirmed my belief that PA would be the best fitting for my personality and personal goals. I discovered my desire to counsel patients in maintaining proper health for preventive care as well, rather than just on post-care treatment. As a future PA, I am excited to work as part of a team that ensures every patient receives the care he or she needs in the most efficient and comfortable manner. I look forward to spending the new few years of my life learning from and growing with peers that have similar aspirations.