Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Stony Brook University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: B.S. in Respiratory Therapy/Care
Name of PA School: SUNY Downstate Medical Center/College
Favorite Quote: “Don’t just count your blessings, be the blessing others count on.”
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Tenacious Trish
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a first-year Physician Assistant student at SUNY Downstate Medical College in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to going to Stony Brook University, I knew I would return to school to pursue another career in medicine that would grant me more versatility and autonomy, with the choices being between Physician Assistant and Medical school. I chose the route of Physician Assistant because it is one of the leading careers as per Forbes. There is a lot of versatility in practice ranging from Surgery, Oncology, Primary Care, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, OB/GYN, and Orthopedics just to name a few. I can work 3 shifts a week at 12 hours/shift, make six figures, and still maintain a social life and even plan for a family. The 27-month-long program, autonomy, versatility in practice, less school debt and less time in school relative to medical school were some amazing key points that encouraged me to choose the Physician Assistant route.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
If I could go back to give my naive college freshman self some advice, I would tell myself to take a year off prior to college. I would travel and experience some part of life outside of school before committing to college. Being able to have some adventure and feel like you have experienced life on a different scale before committing to deciding what you want to do with the rest of your professional life can be pivotal. At 17 and 18 years old you are expected to choose a “major”, a core decision leading up to your career. At that age you don’t know who you are and what you’d want to be or want out of life. Experiencing more can help you determine what may or may not be for you and those experiences can help set the fire of ambition and determination, creating solid footing for your commitment to a career path.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
For anyone applying to a Physician Assistant program, I would say be patient. You may not get in the first go around but keep trying. If your grades are borderline, I would suggest retaking some of those science classes that may be at the B- mark. Make sure to cross-reference all of the school’s requirements; every school has slightly different requirements. Be yourself during your interview. It’s a professional setting so don’t be afraid to humbly sell yourself, smile and be charismatic. The hundreds of applicants that are applying qualify to apply, but you want to make sure you stand out. I encourage getting a certification as a CNA, NA, or EMT to have the healthcare exposure to help strengthen your experience and commitment to healthcare. Be yourself.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
A major challenge I had to overcome was retaking some science classes while working as a respiratory therapist, having to work less, taking on more financial responsibility and demand along with sacrificing time and committing to taking classes in the evenings and weekends for a year. It’s tough to feel like you’re starting over when you have already paid your dues, especially when you already have a clinical degree. I decided to make the commitment and take the classes, not to think about it but to just do it. Every year I wait, the program becomes more and more competitive and the requirements will become even more difficult. Time really does fly, so why wait? Just do it, like Nike!! I had to sit and think about the payoff, one year of classes is definitely worth a lifetime of improvement and happiness. Don’t think about the time that it may take, it’s truly not about where you start but where you finish.
What is your favorite thing about your PA school?
My favorite thing about my PA school is hands down the faculty. The faculty is all-Black, which is something you don’t see too often. But being in a very diversified area of Brooklyn and coming from a White and Asian-dominant undergrad, it is truly nice, as a Black woman, to be surrounded by a set of all-Black professional men and women. The faculty is truly encouraging and supportive of projects that give back along with helping us reach our goals in accomplishing a successful completion of PA school.
Did you take some time off before PA school? If so, what did you do during that time?
Technically, I did not take time off, I worked with my clinical degree as a Respiratory Therapist.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
My passions outside of school are all about giving back to the community. I love having the opportunity to create some charity-based ideas and fundraisers to help give back to the community. A few classmates and I were at Good Day NY for PA day, a day to recognize the Physician Assistant profession. We left home at 3:30am and stood outside until 9am to represent our school and bring awareness to the PA profession as well as SUNY Downstate. I spearheaded and coordinated the Breast Cancer team to walk and raise awareness for Breast Cancer and raised $2,000 to contribute to the fund. I also spearheaded and coordinated a coat drive alongside NY Cares to collect coats for the homeless in NYC where we collected 196 coats, and volunteered for an Autism awareness health fair.
I am a member of a specialized HIV-driven course with only a few selected from the class and am also a member of SPARK, a program in helping young kids gain self-confidence and awareness to the health field. I’ve done a few speaking engagements with faculty at high schools about the PA profession, I have volunteered with the STRONG movement to help give away turkeys to the underserved community, and I’ve worked with the NY Blood drive to help promote, encourage and educate people on the importance of donating blood. I am also class president of the first Masters class at SUNY Downstate and am so proud, blessed and honored to have been able to help spearhead all of these events over the course of the fall semester, all in the midst of papers and exams.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love spending time with friends and family, visiting museums, cooking, reading and most of all traveling.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and PA school at the same time?
Thankfully my boyfriend is also in the medical field; he’s a Physician Assistant and my mother and siblings are all in healthcare! Go figure! Having a partner that understands the demand of the program most certainly helps but whether or not your partner is in medicine, it is imperative that they truly support you. Prior to applying, we sat down and discussed what we may face and what was acceptable for us in our relationship regarding studying and being at school late, down to the lack of help on the home front with things like laundry and cooking, and not being readily available for him, friends or family all the time. All those things should also be discussed with friends and family as well, because you will miss milestone events but its all for the greater good. The program is demanding on your time, emotions and relationship at times but a supportive partner and family should be there to support and encourage you along the way. Be open and honest with your exceptions of your partner and their contribution during this aspect and adventure of your life.
This is such a fantastic perspective Trish! Thank you so much for your valuable insight and for taking the time to thoroughly share your experiences and pieces of advice with us! I’m positive that your words will be a compass for a huge number of people who read this and will help them along their own respective journeys towards the destination that awaits them! Continue your strong work!
Posted on April 4th, 2018