Major: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 1992
Graduate School: Drexel University in Philadelphia
Current Job: Physician Assistant
Briefly describe your job...
I am a physician assistant in a family medical practice near Philadelphia, PA. I provide basic medical care to people of all ages, from teens to the elderly. As a PA, I practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. I am trained to evaluate, order and interpret tests and treat patients.
I also am a coordinator of the Unity Clinic, a weekly free clinic for uninsured people in South Philadelphia. As coordinator, I work with other volunteers to provide basic medical care. This clinic reaches out to people who are immigrants from Southeast Asian countries, mostly from Indonesia.
What has been your career path since graduating from CSB?
I graduated with a BA in Government (now known as Political Science) in 1992, and joined the Vincentian Service Corps as a full-time volunteer and worked with at-risk youth in Brooklyn, New York. I then found a job as an administrative assistant at a university in NYC. Among other things, I spent six years working as a grant writer and then Director of Development for a non-profit agency, Project HOME-an agency working with homelessness. I felt the strong desire to spend less time behind a computer and more time in contact with people through service so I volunteered at a free clinic run by a Catholic Worker community in Philadelphia called House of Grace. Through this experience, I learned about the physician assistant profession. I quickly decided that I wanted to become a PA and began taking night classes in order to apply for a program. I was accepted to a program at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Two years later, I became a PA. While looking for a position, I was approached by two former professors to apply for a faculty position in the PA program at Drexel/Hahnemann. They offered me a full-time position while allowing me to work part-time in an ER and supporting my interests in community work for the uninsured. I stayed on as a faculty member for three years until this past May when I decided that I was long overdue to work full-time as a PA.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I am constantly challenged every day to solve problems and to use all of my skills that I learned in PA training. This kind of job requires one to use scientific knowledge and people skills with each patient. As a PA, I can still work autonomously, but have the option of conferring with my supervising physician if needed. I very much enjoy being a part of a team of professionals in helping patients with acute and chronic health problems.
What are some personal qualities that make you right for this job?
I am able to easily empathize with people, which is necessary in a job which often puts me in contact with folks who are struggling with physical or emotional difficulties. I also consider myself someone who always wants to understand problems as best I can, which is important when I work in a field in which the knowledge base is constantly expanding and evolving.
Do you have any advice for students interested in the field?
If medicine or the PA profession in particular interests you, be sure to get hands-on experience before taking the expensive plunge of entering a program! I think it's always a good idea to shadow or apprentice with someone who is working in the field that you are interested in. You can gain volumes of insight into the job from direct experience that you wouldn't be able to get from a book or a brochure. PA school is not for the faint of heart! It is not medical school made easy. It's tough, condensed, intense but above all, rewarding. Just be sure you're ready to make the commitment.
How do you find balance between your work and your personal life?
I have a significant other, friends, family and a church community (and my dog Rosie!) who continually remind me that there's more to life than work. I'm fortunate to have people in my life who care about me.