Milagros Apreda

Submitted 2022-09-01

I knew something was wrong when my pain medication went missing the day after my dental surgery. I retraced my steps and ended up drawing a blank every time. Out of nowhere, a loud bang came from my front door. I shouted from across the house and asked my sister if she was expecting guests. No response. My sister’s boyfriend opened the front door and ran to my sister’s room. A million thoughts were running through my head, but they all told me to run to her. So, I ran. I still remember carrying her to my car and racing to the hospital. I remember what it felt like pacing throughout the emergency room wondering how this could have happened. She had swallowed every pill in our household. As I waited, pools of beautiful memories with my sister rushed to my head.

I will never forget the face of the PA who opened the emergency room doors and informed me that she was going to be okay. I was relieved by her words filled with compassion and empathy towards my situation. She spoke softly, and her soothing words eased my fears. She may have had other patients to follow up on, charts to complete, or prescriptions to write; but on that day and in that moment, she showed me that my situation mattered to her. She stayed with me as I waited for my mother to arrive. I remember seeing my sister lying on the hospital bed and thinking how lucky I was to have a medical team that responded quickly and professionally. Although my sister’s accident was one of the worst days imaginable, it was this day that sparked my drive to work in medicine.

My sister’s accident stemmed from my parent’s divorce and how it affected the family structure. We could not comprehend my father’s decision to abandon his children and become a father figure to another family. The emotional rollercoaster was too much to bear at times. The combination of the accident and the divorce forced me as the eldest child to mature and become independent. At the age of 19, I moved to Florida and worked multiple jobs while applying for college scholarships that would fund my passion of becoming a PA. I competed on the women’s soccer team at Broward College and was involved in extracurricular activities on campus. As a student athlete, I learned the importance of time management. During the 2018 season, I was selected as co-captain, and I worked hard to facilitate an environment to excel academically and succeed as a team player. Off the field, I was a member of First Gen Proud. This organization is a platform for students, who like me, are first in their family to go to college. They provide access to tools and resources that help students succeed. College was a foreign environment to my family, but with these resources and my own determination, I succeeded where no one in my family has before. I may have come alone to the Sunshine State, but the community of support I formed helped me navigate through my undergraduate years and ultimately made me a more competitive PA applicant.

Throughout my time shadowing, I observed PAs approaching patients in a confident and empathetic matter. Whenever there was the slightest hesitation, the PA would discuss it amongst their team to arrive at a conclusion. While shadowing a PA in a surgical ICU setting, I observed this collaborative effort when a patient’s body rejected a change in his medications. The PA consulted with the physician before any changes were made. She disclosed her observations and confidently explained the patient’s adverse reaction to the alterations. This invaluable experience demonstrated how PAs work interdependently with their medical team to provide exceptional care for their patients.

As an athlete, big sister, and first-generation college student, the emphasis on teamwork is the key contributor to success. I may never see the PA who treated my sister again, but she still plays a tremendous role in my life and serves as one of my inspirations for pursuing this career. At first, I thought I was extremely lucky to have an empathetic PA the day my sister tried to commit suicide. However, throughout my shadowing experiences I observed the impact PAs have on their patients, physicians, and the rest of the medical community. They lend comfort and deliver care that expands the scope of the medicine. Their collaborative ideology enhances both medicine and patient-provider relationships. PAs are integral players of medicine and make long-lasting differences in their communities as they help to deliver care to where it is needed most. My personal and professional experiences throughout my undergraduate years have solidified my purpose to become a PA. I am motivated to begin the journey of lifelong learning, compassion, and healing. I will become a PA that provides effective, holistic, and empathic patient care. I look forward to expanding the accessibility of medicine in underserved communities and develop the highest caliber of rapport with my future patients.

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