My lengthy journey through undergrad gave me a LOT of time to reflect. My initial desire to pursue MD was driven by external motivation and ego. It took me a long time to understand this and then even longer to accept it. This was part of the reason I gave up on school and became very confused about my future. There were still a lot of aspects of medicine that inspired and excited me and I knew I wanted to continue to learn. When I did finally come across PA, I knew this was the career for me.
From childhood and into my early post-secondary education, I always dreamed of going to medical school. I excelled in class but also showed a great passion for learning, which is why I imagine many people encouraged this career path.
However, after an emotionally exhausting first year of university I not only gave up on the med school dream but gave up on school altogether. I dropped my enrolment and took some time to find where my passions lie. Turns out a passion project takes longer than a year; more like 3 years, another attempt at university, and then a college diploma until I started to find my groove. This journey speaks to the diversity, change, and challenges that I strive for which made it very difficult to settle on a specific career path when there are SO many exciting options out there.
Point #1 in favour of PA: being able to explore different areas of medicine is of huge importance to me and makes me feel less “locked-in”, creating less anxiety and more work-life flexibility within this career path.
I went to college for fitness and health promotion with an emphasis on the fitness portion. The end goal was to become a strength and conditioning coach; I wanted to expand my knowledge of programming as I was already confident in my physiology and anatomy knowledge. While studying and working within the fitness industry, I was overwhelmed by the health inequities and lack of health knowledge in many populations. This redirected my passion from fitness to health access and promotion.
Point #2: the average doctor’s visit is 15 minutes and beyond the patients’ chief complaints there is so much information for so little time. The role of a PA excites me as it introduces opportunity to talk about health beyond the clinic and emphasizing the importance of physical activity for health (where appropriate). I could talk for hours about the perceived and real exclusivity of the fitness industry and helping individuals overcome this fear would make my heart so happy.
Finally, my most recent education venture has been Health Sciences at Queen’s. They have done a phenomenal job at creating a multi-disciplinary program that encompasses the many layers of healthcare. In addition to the more science-focused courses, we also explored the social aspects of health and healthcare which offered an informed look at Canadian healthcare and where we still experience shortcomings. Point #3: Canadian healthcare still faces many inequities and the introduction of PAs into regular practice offers a unique opportunity to change the landscape of healthcare and create better health access.