I have been positively amazed by the amount of inspiration I get from reading about other people’s lives. That probably sounds a little strange, but truly, when you lead a fairly normal M-F 8-5 lifestyle, sometimes the sheer foreign-ness of other people’s lives challenge me to think about my “normal.”
This summer has been very transformative for me. Rather than sticking to my comfort zone, I’ve begun to delve deeper, to ask questions about what I really value, and what I really want. I’ve always loved working with people, I just didn’t know the best way to turn that into a career and now I think I have my answer. After several years of doing education and coordination work, I’m applying this fall to a post-baccalaureate pre-medical certification program which will help me, in several years, when I apply to PA SCHOOL! I’m simultaneously excited and terrified. Everything I’ve read about PA school tells me it is the most intense, painful, educational experience of your life. Why PA? Good question. I’ve worked almost exclusively in the non-profit world and I love it. I love the simplicity of having a mission and sticking to it. I love the work that I do – educating people, young and old, about the values of public land, inspiring them to give their time and energy to it. However, I’ve always been concerned about that “next step.” My jobs have been wonderful – direct contact with landscape and people. However, to move up in the non-profit world, you slowly and surely move farther away from those things that inspired you in the work in the first place. My boss sits behind his desk, all day, everyday, thinking of creative ways to ask people for money to support our programs. And I’m SO grateful for him. He’s good at it, he gets it done, and he allows me to do my work. However, I know FOR A FACT that I could never, ever in a million years, be happy in his position. Same with my previous boss. He spent his days meeting with lawyers and wearing suits to appointments in a town 350 miles away. Never, ever in a million years. So I’ve decided to change my course. As a PA, I’ll have a certain level of responsibility that comes with a SIGNIFICANT amount of training. I’ll have direct contact with real people who have real problems, and my job will be, to the best of my ability, to fix them. Cool, huh?What is a PA? A Physician Assistant is “concerned with preventing, maintaining, and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services that were traditionally performed by a physician. Physician Assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventative health care, assist in surgery, give medical orders and write prescriptions” (Wikipedia). These things all happen in consultation with a physician as part of a medical team. Physician Assistants can work in many different settings: clinical, inpatient or surgical. As a PA, it is said that you can do about 80% of what a physician can do. However, the training is much shorter – about 26-30 months depending on the program. As a result, these programs require a significant amount of health care experience before even applying, of which I have exactly zero. I’ve started volunteering 3 hrs/week at our local hospital to get a sense for things and make sure this is what I really want. I’m told that in order to survive PA school, it has to be what you really want. I’ll keep you posted!