Two of the most impactful clinical experiences in my life were really dark; first losing a 22 month old patient to a rare case of cancer and second a Code that resulted in the death of a 10 year old Hematology patient. I watched with frustration as I saw the multidisciplinary team fight this pediatric war of cancer. I wanted to help and provide more as my role as a technician was limited, I knew that due to the lack of clinical education there was not much that I could do. These were defining moments that I knew I wanted to become a physician assistant (PA) because I wanted to be a part of a team of healthcare providers that fight to care, heal and protect patients.
While spending time with these patients they were unique experiences. The cancer patient was battling Acute myeloid Leukemia and Acute Lymphatic Leukemia at the same time. I took care of the patient and her parents by being a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and making their long term stay on our unit as loving, comfortable and supportive as possible. While taking care of her, I met the PA Sarah who took the time to answer my questions as her illness progressed. Sarah was apart of a multidisciplinary team to treat this patient where research and existing treatment options were tried to no avail. As her illness progressed Sarah was keen on non verbal cues of the patient and discussed end of life care with the parents. I saw Sarah establish a bond of trust with the parents and patient through her compassion and empathy. Every tender gesture impacted both the patient and her parents, by giving comfort and support. Sarah’s care was my first experience with a PA and it was then that I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to provide the same level of care and compassion to my patients and their family. It was then I knew what my path forward would be.
While observing the end of life care for this patient it provided me the ability to relate to those admitted to the hospital accompanied by anxious family and friends. As my pursuit of the PA profession continued from my own personal medical experience, volunteering, working in a lab, to dialysis and the hematology/oncology unit, I learned that I thrived in a fast paced environment, with each changing shift my role continued to evolve, creating many new challenges. Communication played a critical role in providing excellent patient care. With each experience I craved the ability to do more.
The Code and ultimate passing of the hematology patient taught me that I was adaptable, able to perform under intense situations and immediately observe abnormal changes with my patients. Though my role was small I was able to collaborate within the team to help save her life but she never regained a pulse. During this time I was able to see her role as a PA in a different capacity from a long term illness to a high intensity situation. I saw her adapt quickly and assist within the team to help fight for this patient while keeping the compassion and empathy apart of her care. I knew I wanted to be a part of a team that fought for the lives and innocence of patients. These experiences solidified my reasons on wanting to become a PA.
As my pursuit of the PA career continued my experiences led me to PA-C Olga, a Hepatologist. I was able to spend countless hours with her learning how she managed a variety of patient conditions related to Hepatitis infections, Cirrhosis of the liver and other liver diseases in the clinic and hospital setting. Again, the bond shared between provider and patient was evident through each interaction. Communication played a critical point in providing excellent care. It occurs to me that every clinical experience that I have taken on further solidifies that there is no other profession that I desire more.
These encounters further elicited a love for science and a greater passion to become a PA and help me further understand the importance of determination and perseverance. I realized that the two most memorable days of my life have shaped me into the person that I am today and the future PA I can be. I understand the stigma attached to alcoholics and terminally ill patients and how that stigma inhibits the proper care needed. In my experiences it has been interesting to learn that each patient has their own story to tell, and their own way of dealing with their situation, so that while I may not fully understand their struggles, decisions or lifestyle, I can still empathize and take them as they are without judgment. Every patient deserves compassion, understanding and quality care. My path to get here was not perfect but I believed in myself and realized that discipline and hard work were the recipe to achieve my goals. I believe the role of a PA profession directly aligns with my character. I am confident that my diverse background and accomplishments make me an ideal candidate to take on the rigor of becoming a PA.