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I was in the middle of recess when I began to itch uncontrollably. Completely irritated by the intense itching, I decided to go to the nurse’s office. When the nurse lifted my selves, I saw the biggest bumps that resembled mosquito bites. My seven-year-old self was terrified, I thought I was dying. The nurse quickly called my mom who took me to my doctor’s office as the bumps continued to spread over my arms. None of the doctors at the office could see me on short notice so I had to see a physician assistant (PA). He immediately diagnosed me with chicken pox and prescribed me a medication that almost immediately made the itching dissipate. To this day, I still have no idea who gave me chicken pox, but I am grateful for that experience because it introduced me to a physician assistant.

Little did I know this was where my love for medicine and healthcare would begin. When I reached high school, I was fortunate enough to get accepted to my school’s medical technology program. This program put an extra emphasis on career exploration and had a partnership with Wagner College PA Program. Throughout my junior and senior years, I met several physician assistants that introduced me to their role in healthcare. I was surprised to learn about the flexibility that being a physician assistant offers. I loved the idea of this because it allowed the ability to provide excellent autonomous care to patients, work as an integral part of a team, and have the opportunity to work in different areas of medicine if desired. From that experience, I became intrigued by the PA profession.

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My interest in the PA profession intensified after my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and quickly passed away. When I heard her diagnosis, I was heartbroken. An ENT physician assistant who had helped her with her sinus issues suspected it. How is it that an ENT physician assistant was able to discover breast cancer? It was then that I remembered the in-depth training that physician assistants receive, which allowed them to recognize and treat illnesses of all different kinds. After her diagnosis, the same physician assistant that suspected cancer would touch base with her to see how she was doing and explain everything that she did not understand along the way. Because of her conscientiousness and compassion during this difficult time, I became certain I wanted to pursue my love of medicine as a physician assistant.

To learn as much as I can about becoming a physician assistant, I continued to explore the medical field throughout my undergraduate career and beyond. Through numerous hours of volunteering, shadowing, and working as a senior patient care associate in the oncology unit. I discovered how crucial compassion, communication, and teamwork are for efficient patient care. As a senior patient care associate, it’s my responsibility to take vital signs and assist patients with activities of daily living. Within this role, there have been numerous instances where a patient would express to me a symptom that they are experiencing. Although I would know what these symptoms could be linked to, it was not within my role to diagnose. This left me feeling unfulfilled and developed a yearning to further my knowledge in order to be able to do more. Unable to further explore or inform the patient of the condition, I would actively listen and then verbally communicate these symptoms with the practitioner. By doing so I was able to ensure that the patients still received the best quality care possible.

Every challenge and opportunity that I have faced since I was a little girl with chickenpox has led me to this decision. My grandmother’s passing has only made me more passionate about this profession. I believe I have a mission to care for patients beyond their initial concerns, the same way my grandmother did. I know the journey will be difficult and challenging, but with my love for learning, I am certain that I’ll gain the knowledge needed to become a valued physician assistant. I look forward to seeing how this opportunity will have a positive effect not only on my life but also on others.

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