Please tell us which program you chose for your Physician Assistant studies. Why did this program make the top of your list?

I attended East Carolina University to complete my master’s. I chose to pursue my degree at ECU because I completed my undergrad at UNC and knew I loved NC and wanted to stay in-state. During the interview process, the faculty and current students I talked with were excited to share that ECU’s program is like a family that truly cares about our learning journey and wants the best for everyone in the program. 

I discovered this was very true during my time there and am eternally grateful for all of the knowledge and experiences that ECU provided!

Tell us more about how you came to choose the field of medicine. What about becoming a PA was attractive?

Throughout my life I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career that both allowed me to help others and that allowed me to engage in life-long learning in a topic that interests me. I learned early on that medicine and all topics related to health fascinated me, so I was drawn to the sciences. I also began volunteering in hospitals at 14 years old and continued until I obtained my CNA and worked for many years on a med-surg floor at UNC Memorial Hospital. I loved working with patients and knew I was meant to work in medicine. The endless possibilities that being a PA offers drew me to this specific field. I love many aspects of medicine, and the opportunity to learn and grow in different fields excites me.

How did you choose Emergency Medicine as your specialty?

From the very start, I knew I would be drawn to Emergency Medicine. I have always sought out busy environments and feel as though I thrive when there are challenges and puzzles to face. I completed two rotations in different EDs during my clinical year and loved the experiences. I truly enjoyed taking care of all the patients I had the privilege to see during my rotations through the ED and loved the ability to care for conditions that were both low-acuity and high-acuity. Additionally, the opportunity to perform hands-on tasks and procedures is very exciting! The more hands-on and busy a job is – the more I love it!

What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day practice?

My favorite part of practicing medicine is my interactions with patients. I always make sure that during each of my patient encounters, they feel heard and know they are being cared for to the best of our abilities. Being able to be a person that brings someone kindness, empathy and compassion during a time in which they are likely upset or scared is very important to me.

What led you to practice with MEMA?

I heard about MEMA’s EM Fellowship Program through a friend who sent me the application. After some further research, I found only very positive reviews about the organization. I was very excited about the opportunity that the fellowship could provide and am thrilled to be a part of the MEMA community!

Has there been one patient, staff member, or caregiver story that has stuck with you?

Countless stories have stuck with me through my years in the medical field. I particularly remember a patient who stuck with me during my days as a CNA. 

This patient was a 25-year-old female with developmental disabilities who was being monitored on my floor for many weeks. She could be verbally and physically aggressive at times, and many of the staff on the floor were hesitant to want to be a part of her care team. She became frustrated easily and had difficulty understanding what was happening around her. One night, when she was my patient, I pulled up a chair and just talked to her about anything she wanted to discuss, which endedup being music. I was able to pull up and play many of her favorite songs, which she then sang and danced to all night. She was happy and not scared or upset for one of the first times during her stay, leading her to willingly take her medications and attend her procedures the following morning. This patient wanted to be heard and feel like others cared about her needs. That simple act of talking to my patient and finding what helped her to cope with her anxiety during such a stressful time reinforced the importance of listening closely and creating an individualized care plan for each patient to improve care outcomes and reduce anxiety.

What are some of the biggest challenges of your practice, for a clinician practicing in the emergency department?

There are many challenges to practicing in the ED. From my experience so far, limited health literacy is one of the major hurdles clinicians encounter. Most patients do not have the background in medicine we are fortunate to have, so understanding test results, diagnoses, prescribed medications, and other interventions can be difficult. Too many patients leave the ED with little understanding of what occurred and their next steps. It’s very important to me to take the time to sit down with a patient and explain each aspect of their care and the “why” in a way that is accessible to their understanding. This can involve explaining multiple ways, drawing, or getting others in on the conversation to reinforce the next steps.

Are you a member of any associations, societies, or organizations? Any leadership roles?

During my undergraduate time at the University of Alabama (two years before transferring to UNC), I was the Club Field Hockey team president. The team was very disorganized, and all of the upperclassmen who had run it graduated without leaving any instructions behind. I stepped up as a Freshman to run the team, organize practices and out-of-state games, manage all dues, and plan club activities. It was a very tough but rewarding leadership experience.

Have you received any awards or been recognized from your peers? If so, tell us about it!

I have not received many major awards in the last few years, but something that I’m proud of is that my med-surg team, which I worked with as a CNA, created unit awards during my last month of work before PA school, and I was awarded the title of “Miss Sunshine.” It may just be a cute recognition from my team, but it was a very meaningful surprise to me since I strive to bring happiness, joy, and positivity everywhere I go.

What about Charlotte excites you?

Charlotte is an amazing city with so much to offer! I’m looking forward to exploring the area more and learning about all of its unique events and places.

Do you have any Hobbies, interests, or secret powers that are unique to you?

I picked up embroidery this past year as a fun way to practice my fine motor skills, hoping it would further improve my suturing! So far, I’ve made quite a few tote bags, pillows, and hats with hand-embroidered patterns for my family.