All Posts By

S K Radhakrishnan

Free Service for Pre-PAs

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With an intent to do more for the future of the PA profession and help students applying to PA school:
• I am writing a series of blogs to educate them about PAs.
• Make myself available to talk to anyone interested in the PA profession.
• Connect new applicants with a network of recent PA graduates to learn firsthand about the current application process.
• Read and critique their application essay as a free service.
• Educate PA students about Postgraduate Residency Programs and talk to any PA student wanting to learn more or interested in pursuing one.
• Please feel free to contact me via my social media – the website has links to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn or email me at skr@skradhakrishnan.com or my publisher email at kanvihouse@gmail.com

Recommendation letter by an RN

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June 5, 2020

C*** M***, BSN, RN, SCRN
Clinical Nurse II
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

RE: Letter of Recommendation for Olivia T***

Dear Madam/Sir,

It is my great privilege to write a letter of recommendation for Olivia in support of her application for physician assistant studies. I have had the opportunity to work alongside Olivia at Duke University Hospital on our 32-bed neurology and neurosurgery unit. This is an extremely demanding and unique unit; comprised of patients with severe debilitating neurological diseases, ranging from stroke, seizures, and brain tumors, to the occasional general medicine and surgery patients. As a nursing assistant, Olivia excels in caring for all patients across our unit; sometimes being assigned to 16 patients during one shift. Olivia exudes critical thinking skills beyond her peers. She is efficient, caring, and compassionate, and treats all patients with respect, kindness, and patience, even when managing a 16-patient assignment. When I come to work and see she is assigned to my patients, I am comforted in knowing they are going to be given the best care possible that day.

Olivia is determined in the pursuit of her goal. While working alongside her one day, I asked why she wanted to pursue the path of physician assistant. I watched her eyes light up while she spoke from her heart her personal story of illness and what that meant to her in becoming a physician assistant. She explained her past experiences in healthcare and volunteer work, all while working several jobs to get herself through school and finish her pre-requisites. She has overcome adversity and has learned how to understand and care for the patient as a whole. It was evident the dedication she is willing to put forward on this path, all of which are vital in becoming a well-rounded healthcare provider.

Olivia is a team player and comes to work every day with a smile on her face and an eagerness to learn. I am more than thrilled to write this letter for Olivia, as I strongly believe she exudes every quality that will help her succeed in a rigorous curriculum to become the kind and compassionate PA that I aspire to work with. I have the opportunity to work closely with Duke physician assistants and feel that Olivia will be an asset to the physician assistant community.

I know she will excel in her studies and look forward to watching her succeed in this journey!

Sincerely,
C*** M***

My recommendation letter for AF

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October 26, 2022

Senthil Radhakrishnan, M.S., PA-C
Administrative Chief and Clinical Neurosurgical PA
Department of Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Re: Letter of Recommendation – AF

Dear Madam/Sir

It is a privilege to write a letter of recommendation for AF in support of her application to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. I have known AF personally for the past two years as a nurse at Duke Neurosurgery.

AF works on the neurosurgical floor, taking care of patients with neurological conditions, and complex pre and postoperative neurosurgical patients. Following completion of ACLS and NIH Stroke Scale, her sound judgment and prudence earned her a promotion to step down unit to take care of high acuity neurosurgical patients.

I have known AF from her first day of orientation to the neurosurgical floor. She is always conscientious, eager to learn, motivated, reliable, and punctual. She has earned the trust of her patients and their families, residents, and the attending surgeons. She works closely with interns and surgical residents and is a valuable team member. She always maintains a professional demeanor, has a constant thirst for knowledge, and has the drive to acquire new skills.

AF has always proved her ability to multi-task, follow-through, and consistently demonstrates her strong medical knowledge, compassion for her patients, and high ethical and moral standards. She can organize, implement, and coordinate appropriate care plans for her patients. In addition, she is very caring, understanding, and helpful to her colleagues, ancillary staff, and nursing and medical students. She precepts nursing students and new nurses and is an excellent role model for them.

Working in a tertiary center with a well reputable neurosurgical unit and caring for high-acuity patients, AF has gained an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in managing acutely ill patients. One of AF’s greatest assets is her initiative to learn and take responsibility. She can develop excellent rapport with her patients, their families, her peers, and superiors at all levels. AF has a sense of humor and deploys it appropriately and judiciously during stressful situations and when caring for sick patients to help them cope and even laugh when they are most vulnerable.

AF is an active member of the Mentor Me and Resilience Nursing Committee. As a goal-oriented, conscientious professional, I believe AF would excel in any graduate program. Her experience has helped her develop strong management abilities, excellent communication with individuals at all levels, as well as the realization of the importance of ethics, compassion, and professionalism. She is also an energetic team player with leadership qualities.

I wish her the very best. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Senthil Radhakrishnan., M.S., PA-C

My recommendation letter for GP

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August 24, 2023

Senthil Radhakrishnan, M.S., PA-C
Administrative Chief and Clinical Neurosurgical PA
Department of Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Re: Letter of Recommendation – GP

Dear Madam/Sir

I recommend GP with the highest regard and greatest enthusiasm and support for her application to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. GP exemplifies the characteristics of a promising and proficient advanced practice provider. I have known GP since July 2020 and since then she has grown in confidence, knowledge, and skill from a novice bedside nurse to an inquisitive and excellent team player with leadership qualities. I am confident GP will make an excellent PA and patient advocate.

GP joined the neurosurgical unit in July 2020 as a recently graduated nurse but she quickly became an essential and reliable member of the neurosurgery team, helping provide excellent bedside nursing to severely ill and complex patients with neurological, neurosurgical, neurovascular, and neuro-oncological conditions with extensive comorbidities. Attentive and invested, GP on many occasions recognized the acute change in the severity of illness and impending decline of our patients. She was professional and adept in reaching out quickly and effectively articulating her concerns to facilitate appropriate intervention or escalation in the level of care. In these moments, I recognized in GP a great potential for a more advanced role in patient care.

GP consistently demonstrated her compassion, enthusiasm, and energy in her role as a neuroscience nurse. Her inquisitive nature and intellect led her to pursue cross-training as an ED nurse beginning in July 2022 and preceptor of newly graduated nurses. She excelled as a charge nurse managing the schedule of her colleagues and their patient assignments. Her problem-solving skills, and clinical acumen to recognize critical changes in patient assessment helped her take care of patients in the neuro-intensive care unit. She exemplifies her adaptability and flexibility consistently through her ability to manage both critically ill patients and successfully manage to help her colleagues, interns, residents, therapists, and other administrative tasks.

She works closely with interns and surgical residents and is a valuable team member. She always maintains a professional demeanor, has a constant thirst for knowledge, and has the drive to acquire new skills. She precepts nursing students and new nurses and is an excellent role model for them.

Working in a tertiary center with a well reputable neurosurgical unit and caring for high-acuity patients, GP has gained an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in managing acutely ill patients. One of GP’s greatest assets is her initiative to learn and take responsibility. She can develop excellent rapport with her patients, their families, her peers, and superiors at all levels. GP has an excellent sense of humor and deploys it appropriately and judiciously during stressful situations and when caring for sick patients to help them cope and even laugh when they are most vulnerable.

Aside from her intelligence, competence, and passion for taking care of people, GP has also served as a member of the Neuro Clinical Practice Council and Policy Making Board. As a goal-oriented, conscientious professional, I believe GP would excel in any graduate program for which she is highly qualified. Her experience has helped her develop strong management abilities, and excellent communication skills, as well as the realization of the importance of ethics, compassion, and professionalism. She is also an energetic team player with leadership qualities.

I wish her the very best. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Senthil Radhakrishnan., M.S., PA-C

My recommendation letter for MB

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June 30, 2023

Senthil Radhakrishnan, M.S., PA-C
Administrative Chief and Clinical Neurosurgical PA
Department of Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Re: Letter of Recommendation – MB

Dear Selection Committee,

It is with the highest regard and greatest enthusiasm that I write this recommendation letter for MB in support of her application for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. I have known MB since she was a junior in college in 2017.

MB shadowed me at work in the summer of 2017. She was eager, inquisitive, and fascinated by the role of physician assistants in healthcare. While she asked thoughtful questions and remained engaged, she knew when to keep quiet and fade into the background. She consistently demonstrated utmost respect and compassion for the patients and their families and interacted with them with kindness. MB maintained her poise and composure when confronted with sick and dying patients and during end-of-life and goals-of-care discussions.

Unlike other candidates who come to shadow only when they are actively applying to PA school, MB chose to do so early in her pursuit to learn about the PA profession and the role of PAs in healthcare. She spent her entire summer shadowing me in the inpatient setting and my colleagues in the outpatient setting. In addition, MB has stayed in contact for the past five years sharing her experiences, challenges, and triumphs in her academic pursuit.

Following graduation from Elon University with a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in allied health, rather than taking an easier route to gain patient care experience, MB decided to become an EMT to gain first-hand experience managing patients and then progressed to a paramedic. I have seen her grow from a novice EMT to a skilled paramedic. On several occasions MB has brought patients from the community as direct admission to my unit and has taken patients, I have discharged to nursing homes and acute rehabilitation facilities. She has excellent bedside manners.

MB has impressed me with her growth and knowledge and I have witnessed her transition from a timid junior to a confident paramedic who can stabilize acutely ill patients. Her role in caring for patients in the community has only strengthened her resolve and determination to pursue her goal of becoming a PA. She has continued to grow as a Medic for the Durham Bomb Squad as well as a medic for the Biological, Chemical, Environmental, and Response Team. MB has been assisting the Medical Director of Durham County with cardiac arrest reviews and data analysis and has taken more FEMA courses specializing in disaster relief. She is volunteering for the at-risk population in Durham County.

As a practicing neurosurgical PA for the past 20 years and the program director of the PA surgical residency program, I am confident MB exemplifies the characteristics of a compassionate, confident, and proficient PA. She consistently demonstrates her strong compassion for not only her patients and their families with her high moral and ethical standards but also for the community at large.

The most impressive quality of MB is her compassion and empathy. Both are admirable qualities and important traits to have as a PA. Without any fanfare or seeking attention on social media, MB silently donated one of her kidneys to a stranger who happened to be in her paramedic class, a young mother in her thirties with complications from lupus.

I am confident MB will be an excellent ambassador for the PA profession and a blessing to her patients. I wholeheartedly support MB’s pursuit of becoming a PA and I am excited about the prospect of having such a kind and compassionate professional as a colleague soon. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Senthil Radhakrishnan., M.S., PA-C

My recommendation letter for OB

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July 17, 2020

Senthil Radhakrishnan, M.S., PA-C
Administrative Chief and Clinical Neurosurgical PA
Department of Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Re: Letter of Recommendation – OB

Dear Madam/Sir

It is a privilege to write a letter of recommendation for OB in support of her application to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. I have known OB personally for the past year as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Duke Neurosurgery.

OB works in the neurosurgical floor, taking care of patients with neurological conditions and complex pre and postoperative neurosurgical patients. I have known OB from her first day of orientation to the neurosurgical floor. She is always conscientious, hardworking, eager to learn, and highly motivated to do the very best she can to provide excellent care to her patients and support the nurses caring for acutely ill neurosurgical patients.

OB is always punctual, reliable, and thorough, and earned the trust of her patients and their families, nurses, allied health professionals, physicians, and physician assistants. She always maintains a professional demeanor, has a constant thirst for knowledge, and has the drive to acquire new skills.

OB has always proved her ability to multi-task, follow through, and be an excellent team player. She consistently demonstrates her strong compassion for her patients and their families and high ethical and moral standards. Under the direction of nurses, she can organize, implement, and coordinate appropriate care plans for her patients. In addition, she is very caring, understanding, and helpful to her colleagues, ancillary staff, and nursing and medical students.

Working in a tertiary center with a well reputable neurosurgical unit and caring for high-acuity patients, OB has gained an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in caring for acutely ill patients. One of OB’s greatest assets is her initiative to learn and take responsibility. She can develop excellent rapport with her patients, their families, her peers, and superiors at all levels. As a CNA, OB takes pride in providing personal care to patients, taking their vital signs, checking blood sugars, and volunteering to assist in all the bedside procedures performed by physician assistants on the ward. She is compassionate, and proactive, has consistently demonstrated excellent bedside manners, and is always very resourceful and innovative in finding solutions to address her patients’ needs. OB is a critical thinker, knows when to ask for help, and is acutely aware of her limitations, which fuels her constant thirst for knowledge and acquiring new skills.

I have consistently heard comments from nurses such as, “OB is here. It’s going to be a good day”, “OB is my favorite CNA, and our patients love her”, “OB is always calm even with difficult patients, and never gets frustrated or overwhelmed”, “OB takes initiative and doesn’t wait to be told what to do”, and “OB is very resourceful in finding answers and solutions for her patients’ day-to-day problems. As a physician assistant working with OB, I echo these sentiments and have personally sought OB’s help in performing bedside procedures like lumbar punctures, lumbar drain placements, halo placements, and incision and drainage. She provides great comfort and emotional support to patients during these anxious times.

As a self-motivated, goal-oriented, conscientious professional, I believe OB would excel in any graduate program. Her experience has helped her develop strong management abilities, excellent communication skills with individuals at all levels, as well as the realization of the importance of ethics, compassion, and professionalism. She is also an energetic team player and possesses all the qualities that make an excellent physician assistant.

I am excited about the prospect of having OB as a colleague soon. I wish her the very best. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Senthil Radhakrishnan., M.S., PA-C

My recommendation letter for YZ

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May 5, 2022

 

Senthil Radhakrishnan, M.S., PA-C
Administrative Chief and Clinical Neurosurgical PA
Department of Neurosurgery
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

 

Re: Letter of Recommendation – YZ

 

Dear Selection Committee,

It is a pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for Ms. YZ in support of her application to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. I have known YZ for the past two years as a colleague working as a dietitian.

YZ started work as a dietetic intern in the neurosurgical stepdown unit in August 2020 and upon graduation continued to work as a registered dietitian since July 2021. She has been instrumental in addressing the nutritional needs of complex pre- and postoperative neurosurgical patients. I admire YZ’s ability to build rapport with her patients and their families. She is quick-witted and can connect with her patients during their most vulnerable time be it recovering from a craniotomy for resection of a malignant brain tumor or readmission for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, or during a protracted hospital course recovering from an acute stroke.

She is always conscientious, hardworking, eager to learn, and highly motivated to do the very best she can to provide excellent care to her patients and support the nurses caring for acutely ill neurological patients. Rather than providing her recommendations based on chart analysis and lab reviews from a computer station, YZ is always in the thick of things. She is constantly interacting with the nurses, PAs, and residents asking about the patient’s medical condition and talking to the patients and their loved ones about the patient’s likes and dislikes, and cultural eating habits before providing her expert recommendations.

YZ has always proved her ability to multi-task, follow through, and be an excellent team player.  She consistently demonstrates her strong compassion for her patients and their families and high ethical and moral standards. She works hard to avert subjecting a patient to a PEG tube or removing an NG tube in patients by being creative to increase caloric intake in patients. She does this with a team approach – collaboration with speech-language pathologists, constant communication with the medical team, and by considering patient’s preferences.

The most impressive quality of YZ is she has transformed adversity, a traumatic childhood, uncertainties, and fear of growing up in a war-torn country into hope, optimism, and empathy. As a self-motivated, goal-oriented, conscientious professional, I believe YZ would excel in any graduate program.  She is more mature for her age and her experiences have helped her develop a strong sense of service, excellent communication skills with individuals at all levels, as well as the realization of the importance of ethics, compassion, hard work, dedication, and professionalism. She is an energetic team player and possesses all the qualities that make an excellent physician assistant.

I am excited about the prospect of having YZ as a colleague soon. I wish her the very best. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

 

Sincerely,

Senthil Radhakrishnan., M.S., PA-C

EMT to PA

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In 1975, my grandpa died from bone cancer. My father nursed him with passion. He was a talented student, but couldn’t pursue engineering anymore due to financial crisis and worked as a helper at an engineering factory to meet ends. Fulfilling his duties, he nurtured his sick mother and an autistic brother. Self-sacrifice for our dutiful services to others was my lesson.

His zealous interest in engineering drew him to ask questions and start learning from the workmen. Eventually, he owned an engineering company from hands on learning. I’ve seen his inordinate dedication to his family and work to give us a better future. He said, “its about us and the family of all my workers.” Today, he is a well-known craftsman in the industrial estate of Gujarat, India. He didn’t let his diploma define his limits. Consistent hard work in the best interest of others wellbeing defines him.

We get so caught up with life that we forget its brevity. It was 07/17/04. Doctor said, “Your mother is in shock due to liver damage and needs instant surgery. Sign this consent”. Clueless, I gave my first official sign. But it was too late. My parents had met with a car accident. They were deprived of urgent medical care due to lack of staff. Surgeon wouldn’t operate my mother until the consent was signed. I was 16, alone and confused. My father was in ICU for 13 months. Injuries caused him lifetime agony. He wished death out of pain and guilt for the loss.  Helpless, I could only counsel him with faith. With proper care and time, his crippled body was walking. When he came home, his teary eyes gazed at me and smiled. It made perfect sense with no words. My joy in serving my sick father and weak family is indescribable. But our lives changed. I believe instant medical care, her last best chance, would have given us a closure. My father’s life set examples but her death changed my perspective.

He is aging wisely but not his wounds. He recently went through CABG. When I was afraid, he said, “You make more of a difference than you know. Decide on problems, find solutions, pick best practice, partner and then deliver to the needs.” He knows how to take your fears away. He always reminds me to give back to the society the support they gave us. There is no bigger pleasure than serving humanity.

Life put him to great trials, but he overcomes for his next endeavor. Today, he funds education to potential but underprivileged kids of our society. He runs an English medium campus in his village to promote English speaking. He provides free books and stationary to all the enrolled students.

As an EMT and a MA, I have been involved in patient care for 5 years. It is a beautiful gift to be a part of someone’s day. Patients amaze me with their stance. There is so much to learn from cultural diversity. There is no greater blessing than the healing touch of another. Imagine life with a helping hand in every step. I want to be that hand. It is exciting to watch them recover and resume life. This contentment is my prime asset.

His endless sickness has driven me to advance in my career. As a PA I will be able to balance my life along with the profession. I can upsurge my wisdom by continual learning. I cannot make this planet disease-free, but I can try making it less painful. Understanding body and mind can solve mysteries of life. My inquisitive nature can contribute to mystery solving. Faith lies in comforting reasons. I shall strive to find reasons to comfort patients. Comfort brings peace and it’s all about making peace in the end.

My fatuity caused me to drive under the influence. I was honorably discharged with a good moral character, but left with remorse. I was guilty of risking my fellow beings. Moreover, my father was fighting CHF. I failed to keep up to NYU-Poly criteria and dropped out. This impacted me deeply to the point of action. I couldn’t resist regret and retraced my steps. I have the integrity to confess my errors. It clears my consciences and fortifies my purpose. In the years since, I have matured and to enforce it with reason, I hope to pursue PA profession, although my chances could get very minimal due to this. But it is rightly said, “What we fear the most is usually what we most need to do”.

Life has spun me into the individual I am. Discipline and patience defines me. I know how not to give up but also how to let go. The human brain has a lot of potential, which in the right direction can make wonders. My potential leads in this direction. I learnt that life lived for others without attachment is most worthwhile. This is a life business and death is just a part of it, but what happens to people in their last moments really matters. In memory of that ominous night, I wish to aid shaky families with a chance. Lessons learnt from experiences and education has prepared me to make my life meaningful to others as a PA. My satisfaction lies in my effort and not attainment. This is who I am, and respectfully, nothing else can define me.

Scribe and EMT to PA

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I reclaimed my path at an orphanage in the Ngong Hills of Kenya. The police had admitted two sisters in the dark of the night. They were victims of abuse, discarded because they were born HIV positive. I craved the ability to treat their injuries, but there was nothing I could do. A volunteer Physician Assistant (PA) sprang into action, comforting and providing medical aid, ultimately stabilizing both children. I did not have the licensing or skillset to accomplish what I desperately wanted. Until that point, my life had run on autopilot. I was pursuing an undergraduate medical tract without a defined practice in mind. It took traveling 4,500 miles from home to rediscover my purpose.

Over the next five years, I served as an Orchard Africa volunteer, living in various villages throughout Africa. We initiated feeding programs, developed and introduced a school curriculum applied throughout South Africa, and implemented medical and HIV education programs. It became evident that there was an immense need to build communities with access to healthcare and education. Lacking formal schooling, older village members perceived health education as a threat to their beliefs and their standing in the community. To increase community acceptance, my team and I designed and implemented a participatory model for elder engagement in curriculum facilitation focused on spreading HIV awareness to youth. I remain inspired by the practitioners and village members who worked in unison, relying on their own resilience and capability to find creative solutions despite limited resources and sometimes lacking medical training. I aspire to maintain this tenacious spirit throughout my current and future medical career.

I have a passion for bringing equity to healthcare, which impelled the medical opportunities I pursued serving marginalized communities in the United States. Access to quality care remains a widespread issue for patients from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. I interned at a local family practice that served predominantly first-generation immigrants to further my learning in culturally appropriate medical care. Each day, foreign-speaking patients sought medical care with lacking English language skills. My supervisor, a Ukrainian immigrant PA named Julia, coached me on the importance of patient and compassionate communication. I studied the symbiotic relationship between the physician and the PA, listened to and applied cultural sensitivity, and interpreted the most important universal language of compassion. Julia and her team provide culturally targeted healthcare to a population struggling to find their place in this country. My goal is to mitigate ethnic and racial disparities in the healthcare system. Becoming a PA will enable me to focus on a broad range of medicine, which is pertinent when dealing with a diverse populace.

These experiences and many others fortified my desire to provide quality care as a PA. I completed additional coursework, advanced my experience as a Scribe in the Emergency Department, and earned my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license to strengthen my medical skills. Working in Level One Trauma Centers as an EMT on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic allows me to be part of a team in a time of uncertainty. With the shortage of personal protective equipment and the fear of the perpetual unknown, we choose to flow as a seamless unit. We are fighting against a novel virus with the tools we have learned in our studies and the empathy we have found among one another.

This empathy has been the foundation for how I interact with my patients. Recently, an attempted suicide patient was flown in just after midnight. I have lost a loved one to suicide, and after assessing the gunshot wound, it was clear the patient was not going to survive. It would have been acceptable for me to leave after a time of death was called. However, I knew from experience the patient on the bed was not the only injury in that room. I approached the patient’s parents and sat in their pain. I wanted to validate their grief and reassure them that they were not alone. I knew they were going to need continued care and that my responsibility did not end with their child’s life.

For as long as I can remember, practicing medicine has always been my dream. Over the years, I have started my own tourism company, served as a Public Relations Director, operated as a Regional Sales Manager, and volunteered across the world. Throughout my experiences, healthcare has remained a constant in my life. Everything is clear to me when working in tandem on a medical team; even in the whirl of a trauma bay, time slows, and the noise dissipates. Treating and caring for people is a part of who I am. I believe each moment has been necessary to prepare me for my destined profession. I would be honored to be given the opportunity to take the next step and become a PA.

Please explain how your patient care experience (direct and/or partial) has shaped your perspective on the delivery of health care in the United States.

My home state of Arizona is a dichotomy of new developments and rural land inhabited by indigenous peoples, lower-income communities pushed to the edges of urbanization, and Latinx populations working to thrive in this border state. For these underserved communities, the geographic sprawl of Arizona produces extra barriers to healthcare access, including lack of transportation and limited primary care clinics outside cities. Limited English, knowledge of the healthcare system, being uninsured, and fear of deportation for Latinx communities further prevent patients from seeking care. These social determinants increase the risk of chronic health diseases in adults and developmental issues in children.

The power of a culturally competent PA is not just treating a patient’s symptoms but also listening and addressing unexpressed needs. Through my work with homeless youth, I learned how external factors inform health outcomes. Youth dealt with food insecurity, and most had never experienced stable housing. Complex trauma and street living caused them to develop poor affect regulation, lack of vaccinations, and increased risk of communicable diseases. Youth faced judgment when seeking help for mental illness or sexual health based on their lifestyle, lack of health literacy, or even appearance. Fearful of systems that had failed them prior, they chose to self-medicate or simply refuse services. As a future PA, I see ample opportunity to provide a broad range of care to these patients through means that make sense to them, such as mobile health clinics.

Uninsured individuals, who are disproportionately people of color from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, often rely on emergency service as a primary form of care. I have recognized how these patients can feel stigmatized by providers with good intentions. In emergency triage, overwhelmed physicians may fall victim to implicit bias. In response, a physician may excuse the severity of a patient’s complaint based on stereotypes, potentially missing a diagnosis. This is an opportunity for a PA to provide high-quality care to patients of all acuity levels. As a future PA, I seek to address health concerns before they exacerbate into dire and costly conditions. Working at the community level is a prime way for me to provide patients with an alternative to emergency room care.

My direct experience working with underserved populations in various medical settings and on the front lines of a global pandemic has strengthened my understanding of inequity in the healthcare system. I have witnessed how a person’s socioeconomic status, gender identity, age, and race can influence not only pre-determined health outcomes but also the quality of care they receive. My mission is to continue to grow as a compassionate clinician to provide culturally relevant care grounded in an understanding of inequity with the hope of making quality healthcare available to all.

Please describe the factors (such as personal attributes, external challenges, peer support, etc.) that you believe contributed to your academic success.

When I was growing up, family members struggled with severe alcohol and drug addiction, abuse, and proper medical care. In response, I desired to be the medical provider to change that. As I matured, I innately understood the complexities of the aforementioned conditions that my peers and society harshly judged. That quality of empathy would stay with me throughout my work in African orphanages, with the homeless teens of Arizona, and the addictive behaviors facing reservation youth. However, empathy and the desire to alleviate human suffering would not be enough to get me through the suicide of my partner, the manslaughter of a dear friend, the cancer-caused death of my father-in-law, and the sexual assault I would experience. To persevere through this, I needed resilience. I learned to change my narrative and the story I was telling myself, and I turned to my community for support. My friends and family rebuilt my strength after each loss, and my community provided an outlet where I could heal through service. When I think about my goal of completing your program, I feel academically prepared, emotionally supported, and passionately driven to be the healthcare provider that makes a difference for anyone experiencing health afflictions.

For any prerequisite course in which you believe the grade recorded does not reflect your mastery of course material, please describe the factors (such as personal attributes, external challenges, peer support, etc.) that you believe contributed to the recorded grade. 

As an undergraduate, I balanced a full-time work schedule to support myself with a full-time academic program. I was young and confident, often challenging myself to take on higher-level classes in addition to my extracurriculars, which led to some of my grades falling to a C among my otherwise respectable undergraduate marks. I understood that I needed to manage my time more appropriately and have since practiced this skill through proper scheduling and remaining conscious of what I can handle.

After I graduated, I enrolled in community college to finish my medical prerequisites. During my first week of classes, my long-term partner died by suicide. Devastated, I withdrew from classes. The following semester, I repeated the courses and received high marks in both.

Nevertheless, I knew I needed adequate time to grieve to ensure my future success. I decided to take a break from my studies and pursue volunteer opportunities at that time. In the small villages of Africa, I was healing alongside people who were attempting to recover from life’s tragedies themselves. I learned more from them about facing adversity than I could have ever learned from facing grief alone.

A few years later, I stopped traveling to Africa as often and enrolled in higher-level courses, receiving a post-graduate cumulative GPA of 3.84. I can now confidently balance working full-time between four hospitals, managing a company, and applying to school.

Please provide your definition of “success” as it relates to academic achievement and professional development.

Throughout my life, I have experienced personal adversity and witnessed it in the livelihoods of the communities I serve. Success has meant persistence and the ability to pivot to meet changing circumstances. Academically, I knew the next step was achieving my PA Degree, and I also knew I needed to strengthen my medical experience. I wanted direct patient care in a fast-paced setting within a year. Without a significant amount of formal medical training, I returned to school and then applied and graduated from the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program with honors. I began working as a medical scribe, rotating between three emergency departments, and within a year, I applied to a level-one trauma center as an EMT. My work and schedule are challenging, but my persistence allowed me to successfully build the medical experience and knowledge I now possess.

Thinking about my mentors acknowledges a common attribute they possess, the willingness and desire to always learn and grow. As a professional early in my career, I take the opportunity to shadow the PAs and ask them to walk me through each step of advanced medical procedures, such as chest tube placement and intubation. While it is currently outside my scope of practice, it will better prepare me for my career in the future. In my downtime, I explore and learn about issues at the intersection of patient care, such as therapeutic modalities, trauma-informed care, and the interplay of cultural and community dynamics on health and wellbeing. As healthcare providers, our duty to our patients and ourselves is never to get comfortable and always be challenged to find better solutions and preventative measures for optimal whole-person health.

Please explain how your experiences shadowing a PA have shaped your perspective on the roles and responsibilities of a PA in the delivery of health care in the United States.

The primary care PA, Julia, whom I shadowed, exemplified the impact that PAs can make in healthcare in the United States. Julia ensured all of her patient’s needs were met by scheduling longer appointment gaps and assessing patients’ socio-environmental factors. One of the more impactful moments I witnessed was when a patient with new-onset insomnia came in for treatment. Julia performed a physical exam, took time to establish rapport, and talked through possible triggers. The patient explained a recent divorce and feelings of worthlessness. Instead of providing insomnia medication to treat a symptom, Julia was able to uncover the root of the problem and refer the patient to a psychiatrist who prescribed proper medication. This was a powerful lesson in putting the patient first and providing compassionate high-quality care. Julia taught me about the responsibility PAs hold in centering the patient’s health needs while considering the psychosocial and environmental factors that influence their well-being. As a future PA, I think of the patient-clinician partnership I want to create, where patients feel understood, validated, and empowered to make the medical decision that is right for them in collaboration with their provider.

Please provide any additional information you wish the Admissions Committee to consider when reviewing your academic performance and healthcare experiences.

Certain moments have the potential to derail a person’s plans, and some may never recover without proper aftercare. In 2016, I was assaulted on a business trip, and my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. I had just applied to a PA program, but my application was not considered due to rolling admissions. I paused on future applications to spend the next few years serving as my father-in-law’s caretaker while pressing criminal charges against my attacker.

To be successful in graduate school, I needed to be strong mentally and academically. I defined my resilience by fighting my attacker in a four-year-long legal battle. These events resulted in a longer gap between my undergrad and graduate school. However, this experience gave me the platform to advocate for others when they feel hopeless and to stand in solidarity with the assault survivors I encounter in the hospital where I work. I have overcome many hardships throughout my life, yet I remain steadfast in my pursuit of practicing medicine and becoming a physician assistant.