Written by Tara Ford (PA), for GradSchools.com, January 2013
Since I was a little girl, I have always been interested in the helping professions. Since I loved animals, I wanted to become a veterinarian. However, once I learned that veterinarians also had to euthanize animals, I decided against it! During high school, I loved reading Dear Abby in the newspaper and helping my friends with their problems, so I considered becoming a therapist. I majored in psychology and minored in sociology in college. When I studied abroad in Australia I became interested in international relations which led to me to accept a teaching job in Japan after graduation. While I was overseas, I began to write and discovered I loved writing and even considered a career in journalism!
Once I moved back to New York after living abroad, my initial interest in the helping professions returned. I wanted to find a career where I could incorporate all of the skills I had acquired. I worked at a non-profit AIDS organization as an educator. I traveled around to different schools and lectured on HIV prevention. I also became certified as a pre/post-test counselor and administered the oral HIV test orasure on mobile vans. I found myself gravitating towards the science and treatment of HIV and attended many workshops and lectures. It was during a lecture that I was introduced to the Physician Assistant profession. I had never heard of the profession before and was highly impressed by the lecturer who was a PA. I spoke with her after the lecture and asked her questions about the profession. She gave me a few websites to check out and the information I found really excited my soul. I loved the idea of being able to practice medicine AND have the freedom to change specialties throughout my career. Since clearly, I like to experience different things in life!
As it turned out, my best friend’s brother is a PA and I was able to shadow him as he worked in the ER. I was exposed to so many different elements of medicine and loved every minute of it. During this time I became certified as a personal trainer and my love and aptitude for the anatomy and physiology classes gave me the confidence to pursue my new dream. I took a big risk and quit my job at the HIV organization, moved back home with my parents and enrolled full-time at a community college to fulfill the pre-requisite requirements. My mantra became, “PA school or BUST!” After 18 months of pre-requisite courses, question marks, frazzled nerves and interviews, I was accepted at the school of my choice.
I currently work in women’s health specializing in female sexual dysfunction. I am able to utilize many of the skills I have acquired over my lifetime. I counsel patients, perform exams, prescribe medications, and I even write blogs for our website! So for me, becoming a PA was definitely the right choice. Now you know why I became a Physcian Assistant, want to join me?
About the Author: Tara Ford is a physician assistant and guest blogger for GradSchools.com