By Eric Bonds, a TeamHealth physician assistant at Hanover Hospital in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes tragic life events can turn someone’s life around. For me, it was meeting the physician assistant (PA) who provided treatment after a season-ending baseball injury.
When I was a junior in college there were multiple professional baseball teams scouting me to possibly advance to the professional level until a complete ACL tear ended my season and several major league teams’ interest. My draft status plummeted. Meanwhile, I received great medical treatment by an outstanding orthopedic team in Reading, Pennsylvania. The PA who provided treatment for my injury inspired my interest in becoming a PA.
After my baseball injury, I finished college with an undergraduate degree in forensic science. I began working for a forensic pathologist in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not only was I assisting with autopsies and dissecting organs, I was also working for a certified medical investigator with the local coroner’s office. I enjoyed these jobs, but I was also deciding on my next move; PA school or the Pennsylvania police academy. I was torn between these professions.
The pathologist encouraged PA school, stating “you’re practically PA already.” Meanwhile, my best friend was a state trooper and pushed me the opposite direction.
I began the state police academy program and passing all of the initial fitness, written and polygraph tests with ease. Three days into formal training, the instructor posed a question: “To be a state trooper, you have to ask yourself three questions; are you willing to give your life, save a life or take a life?” I could certainly do two of the three, but taking a life was not a guarantee. Immediately after the lecture, I packed my bags and resigned. The instructor asked if I had plans for a career. I looked at him proudly and said I was headed to graduate school to become a PA. He wished me well and said it was an excellent career choice.
I completed applications, fulfilled all prerequisites and was accepted to several schools. I ended up pursuing my education at Arcadia University.
During my first year of PA school, I treated my first patient. After performing a history and physical examination, I exited the room with a new sense of self-worth. It was a feeling I had never felt before. I knew at that very moment that I was put on this earth to be a physician assistant.
Most PAs say they entered the field to help others. That is certainly true in my case, but helping others also helps me. It gives me a sense of self-worth, gratification and humbles me daily with almost every patient I see. Every day is a new day and brings something different to the table. I honestly could not be happier doing anything else.
PAs play a vital role in improving patient outcomes and making our communities healthier. For over 50 years, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) has promoted this important profession and the positive impact PAs have in delivering compassionate, quality care to patients and families in need.
As we celebrate National PA Week, and look forward to the next five decades of excellent patient care, TeamHealth wants you to know how much we appreciate you!
Thank you for your commitment in treating your patients. Thank you for sharing your skills and expertise in stressful situations. Thank you for the positive impact you make every day.
In honor of National PA Week, TeamHealth’s Dr. Randal Dabbs shares thoughts on the important role PAs provide.
Happy #PAWeek from TeamHealth!