MY JOURNEY TO PA SCHOOL
Ever since I was a young child, I have dreamt of working in the healthcare field. After spending most of my childhood in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals, I wanted to be able to help others the way that my doctors helped me. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Tennessee in 2014, I decided that becoming a physician assistant was the right path for me.
When I began applying to PA programs, I encountered my first hurdle. Most schools require so many hours of shadowing and working in the healthcare field. In 2016 I completed a certified nursing assistant course so that I could fulfill the healthcare employment requirements. Due to my disabilities, finding a CNA job proved to be difficult. I began working with my vocational rehabilitation counselor to help find job leads and she referred me to Goodwill. After much searching, I was offered a CNA job at Ben Atchley Veterans’ Home, where I worked for a year.
I submitted my PA school application in April 2018. By September 2018, I had been offered interviews at Trevecca Nazarene University and Lincoln Memorial University. I interviewed at Trevecca in September and was put on the waitlist. I interviewed at LMU a few weeks later. In October, I received the letter that I thought would never come. I had been accepted to the physician assistant program at LMU.
I started school in May 2019. One of the first hurdles I encountered during my first semester was seeing the structures on the cadaver in anatomy lab. I also had some difficulty with some of the physical exam techniques. My professors were extremely supportive of me and were willing to help me come up with a solution to my problem. I reached out to disability services, but because the school is so small, they unfortunately did not have much to offer in the way of adaptive equipment. I purchased an electronic magnifier and was able to successfully complete the course. I also realized that having bioptic lenses (which is a pair of glasses with telescopic lenses built in) would be of great benefit to me going forward. I was fitted for the lenses over Christmas break. The next few semesters were fairly uneventful and I had no further issues.