Monday, July 4, 2016

The PA Foundation Reception

The PA Foundation Reception
Updated on: 07/04/2016
A few months ago I was asked to speak at the PA Foundation’s Donor Recognition Breakfast at the 2016 AAPA Conference, which I was eager to accept especially after all that they had done for me in the preceding months. [Insert: I was previously accepted as one of the 18 recipients and the 2015 Bristol-Myers Squibb Endowed Scholarship Recipient]. More on Bristol Myers Squibb here.

I don’t say, ‘Thank You’ often enough for the hard work others put in, but it is definitely deserved. So, ‘thank you’ to everyone at AAPA and the PA Foundation who work tirelessly to ensure that students like myself can achieve their dreams of becoming a PA on top of making other milestones for our profession. Special thanks to Caroline Pierce and Key Ideas for working on my ‘impromptu nonsense of a speech’ and creating this incredible video to promote the PA Foundation Scholarships for future PA students.

Hopefully many future millions of dollars will be able to be given away to the future generation of PA students, but more importantly, I see the future of this scholarship impacting a much more global scale as our PA community continues to reach out and expand. Perhaps one day our PA programs will apply for institutional grants?

Perhaps one day everyone won’t have to be an underrepresented minority student or grow up in an economically disadvantaged background to receive a scholarship. Perhaps one day all it will take is greater academic achievement, leadership, volunteerism, and a strong desire reduce health disparities for the better in order to turn heads. To my fellow PA students who don’t currently meet the criteria, please continue to have faith that one day these barriers to acknowledging your success will seen as optional, rather than requirements.

To get involved with the PA Foundation or to donate to students like myself, click here. There are many other ways to give back than donating money. Specifically, volunteering and leadership.
Contributions empower PAs to
  • Give back locally and globally
  • Improve community health
  • Inspire and support the next generation of PAs
  • Engage patients in their own healthcare

My Speech
Approximately 3 years ago I was sitting in a room amongst the most qualified candidates nervously waiting for my turn to interview for a spot at UT Southwestern’s PA program; one of the top PA programs in the nation. Like most people, moments before a major life event, my mind was racing, but this time I was reflecting on my past experiences trying to determine just how much of an impact I’ve made on others and whether or not it would be good enough to meet their expectations.
Still don’t know the answer to that question and I’m not sure I ever will, but one thing is certain – so many people around me deserve credit for making an impact on my journey as a PA and professional blogger.
Two summers ago I started volunteering for Redbird Community Wellness Clinic – it was one of my first experiences with patients in PA school and was so rewarding. We were able to meet patients at a local church to provide them with diabetes education and promote medication compliance and preventive care. Around the same time, I started visiting high schools and colleges all over Dallas and Austin as part of Project Access. This wasn’t a requirement for school – these were interests that I had – something I thought was necessary and meaningful. I wanted to get myself out in my own community and encourage students to pursue the PA profession; I wanted students to think hard about their decision to pursue medicine and to consider an opportunity that was never heavily advertised when I was in their shoes.
Later that year I joined an organization on campus called United to Serve, which held a free health fair for underserved populations of Dallas. I was able to create pamphlets that provided information that was easy-to-read and understand in English and Spanish on common skin lesions. At the time I didn’t realize how valuable these would be; I used them again on my pediatrics rotation, which was 95% Spanish-speaking only and 100% Medicaid and cash-paying patients. This showed me that the work I was doing had a purpose outside of just my own learning.
In January 2014 I created a blog, which some of you may know as Dose of PA, or “Trust Me, I’m a PA Student.” I started the blog because I wanted to stay on top of updates in our industry and in medicine – it was right after the debut of the Affordable Care Act – and I felt it would be a disservice to my patients if I didn’t understand how it impacted their care or my own practice. As I kept writing, I realized how much of a passion I had for it – not just the blogging, but helping other students navigate the PA profession from the start to beyond graduation. I encountered a ton of topics that I never would have known about and it helped to really strengthen my outreach to a much larger audience. Whether I have impacted hundreds or millions of individuals does not really matter to me – what matters is that I am better prepared to care for my patients and have all of the tools to educate future generations.
My education is special and I know that my purpose in life has and will continue to transform. Once I wanted to be an engineer, so I went to school for biomedical engineering. Once I wanted to be clinician, so I went to PA school to become a PA. Now I have found another calling as a future PA educator.
Scholarships like this one have helped shape me into all of these and I’m sure I will achieve great things with these tools. My career goals include working in neurology with children who have epilepsy, becoming a leader in the Hispanic medical community, and eventually to become involved in physician assistant (PA) education.
I wrote this speech 5 times trying to think of what I wanted to convey and worried about whether or not it would convey all of the hard work and time I have put into dedicating my life to service and how I could express my own gratitude. Your contributions enable students like myself to commit time to volunteering and mentoring others while simultaneously educating myself. After writing this speech and reflecting on all of my experiences – it’s not difficult to see that I have impacted others around me – but I hope my work is as meaningful as the impact those people have had on me. One thing will always be true – it was all worth it and I wouldn’t change one thing.

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