A Day in the Life
How did you become interested in the field of health care?
When I was in high school, I was a “candy striper” (that’s a nickname for a hospital volunteer) in an emergency department. I have always been fascinated by science and the human body. It was exciting to look at X-rays with the doctors, talk with patients and watch the daily events in the department unfold. Being a part of the excitement was unforgettable, and my goal was to be in health care someday.
How did you know physician assistant was the right job for you?
I chose to become a physician assistant (PA) because I wanted to have a personally rewarding and financially secure career, but still have plenty of free time to spend outside of work. And being a PA offers a lot of flexibility to work in different areas of medicine. I work in an emergency department at a major hospital now, and I also will be working part time with a family practice office.
What’s an average day like for a PA?
The work I do is similar to a physician. I conduct medical histories and physical examinations, as well as order X-rays, CT scans or laboratory tests for my patients. I diagnose their illnesses and prescribe medication if needed. I also admit patients who are seriously ill or discharge them when they’re fit to go home. And most importantly, I counsel them on their condition and how to take better care of their health.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I just started but I absolutely love every day that I go to work. It’s very hands-on, and I spend a lot of time listening to my patients and interacting with my peers. I know I picked the right career because it doesn’t even feel like work!
Caring for patients is like solving a puzzle. No two patients are the same. And even though it can be difficult to put the puzzle pieces together, it’s so gratifying to see a patient feel better when they leave.
What’s your best advice for anyone considering becoming a PA?
It definitely takes dedication. I went to a four-year university and earned a biology degree, followed by a physician assistant program that took a little more than two years.
If you’re passionate about helping people live healthier lives, becoming a PA is the way to make a career out of it. Volunteering at a hospital will help you get first-hand experience. And once you’re on the job, you can make a real, positive impact on people’s lives.