Asia, Physician Assistant Student

 A physician assistant or physician associate is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional who practices medicine alongside a physician and other healthcare team members. To become a physician assistant there are fewer years of schooling than the schooling of a Medical Doctor. Obtaining a license to practice usually requires a 4-year degree in tracts like cellular biology, health science, or public health, among others. Completion of an accredited Physician Assistant program, which is generally a 25-month course, is also required. After schooling, the student completes a one-year clinical rotation to gain hands-on medical experience.

Both the MD and the PA are responsible for patient care. A physician assistant’s scope of practice includes examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, taking patient history, developing and implementing treatment plans, counselling patients on plans, and performing procedures when indicated. The duties of a PA overlap with that of a doctor except a few major procedures such as surgery. However, a PA can assist in surgeries!

The major difference between a physician assistant and a physician is that the doctor works autonomously and a PA functions under the supervision of a doctor.

To kick off the PA student series, Asclepius Blog interviewed a student working diligently toward the goal of becoming a Physician Assistant.  First, a little about her: Meet Asia Sullivan. She’s 23 years old, and she’s from Castleberry, AL. She’s currently enrolled in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s double master’s degree program for Physician Assistant studies and Public Health. In 2015, she graduated summa cum laude from UBA with a bachelor’s in Public Health and a minor in Biology. She is finishing her first year of PA school. She took time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions and to talk about her life, her passion, and her concerns surrounding the field of medicine.

Describe a typical day/week in your life?

Well if it’s any clue… I’m listening to a lecture recording while answering these questions. Ha!

{As a student nurse myself, I understand that most who share their thoughts with this blog are extremely busy individuals. All words of wisdom and insight are greatly appreciated!}

 The challenges of a medical career and education are very daunting. Most people avoid a medical career because they fear they are insufficient in some way which is very unfortunate. I asked for her response to someone saying, “I’d love to be a PA but I’m not smart/dedicated enough!”

Firstly, I never allow my friends (or anyone really) to say to me that they’re not smart enough, or talented enough, or pretty enough, or what have you. That is simply not true. PA school, like most things, can be conquered if you have a true passion for medicine and healing and the drive to achieve that dream. With that being said, if someone believes they are not dedicated enough, then they probably aren’t. PA school requires 100% dedication to your education and to the profession. A person who lacks dedication to those key things is probably not the best fit to be a PA! I truly believe in only investing emotional energy (and TONS of student loans) into something you’re truly on fire for. 

The purpose of the Asclepius blog is not only to invite non-medical people into the field of medicine, but also to celebrate those who are already a part of it. The medical field is very competitive, and it’s a pleasure to highlight the hard working, passionate people striving to make a difference. Many students of a medical education not only devote their time to their studies, but also to being active and making an impact in their communities. Even with a double major, Miss Asia prioritizes her role as a member of the medical field!

Are you active as a medical professional or health and wellness promoter/advocate in a community outside of the hospital?

I am a public health student and currently serve as an intern to a local homeless shelter and screening clinic for men in the Birmingham area. I also run a health (& beauty/lifestyle!) blog at www.coutureinclinic.com

Within the field of medicine there are many specialties for a professional to choose from, although it is not required. For example, emergency, intensive care, and surgery are specialties.

Which specialty intrigues you most and why?

I am most interested in plastic surgery. To me, plastics highlights the “artistry” in the “art of medicine.” 

Asia mentioned the “art of medicine.” There is obviously a science, knowledge-based side to medicine. The art of medicine encompasses the compassion and understanding of humans and their emotional and spiritual facets, not just their physical issues and maladies. Touching a patient’s lifeis just as important as performing a procedure on them. You have to treat them like a person and not treat only their medical issue. As a former model, Asia appreciates the importance and relevancy of outward appearance in regards to a person’s self-esteem, relationships, and even earning potential. In her opinion, both cosmetic and reconstructive reasons are valid for a person to seek plastic surgery. Her ambition is, “To provide care in a totally non-judgmental and supportive way.” 

In your view, what is the most pressing issue medicine is facing today?

The most pressing problem facing medicine today is the rising costs of healthcare coupled with increasing inaccessibility of health services. There is a woeful lack of healthcare utilization in the US and those who do receive care are typically way-“over-cared” for, meaning they’re having unnecessary procedures, prescriptions, etc. This “paradox of excess and deprivation” (as one of my textbooks calls it) is literally killing people while the public waits for progressive political action to be taken.

And there you have it! A glimpse into the heart and mind of a physician assistant student. Please give this post a like and leave a positive comment below! If you have any questions to ask Asclepius about this career path feel free to email them to asclepiusblog@yahoo.com Also, follow the Instagram page for new post notifications. Got questions for Asia Sullivan? Visit her blog and find her on Instagram as well. Lastly, connect with Asclepius Blog on Facebook to become part of the med-loving community!

Still curious about what it means and what it takes to become a Physician Assistant? There are plenty more interviews with Physician Assistants and PA Students coming! So be sure to watch for them ❤

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