Physician Assistant student Vanessa Godines answers some questions about what made her choose PA at Mount St. Joseph University, as well as her experience thus far during COVID-19.

Mount St. Joseph News


What made you want to become a PA?


My interest in healthcare began as an undergraduate student, following a premed path. I was not certain if I wanted to follow the medical school or master’s in nursing route as a graduate career. I took time off before applying to graduate programs to work in a healthcare setting and explore my options to better select my career path. While working in a hospital setting, I was able to observe the different scopes of practice for each profession.


Through this, I was able to notice that the PA profession had overlaps in medical school and master’s in nursing routes. After shadowing PAs, I was certain that this profession fit the role I wanted to play in the healthcare setting the best and combined the aspects of medical and nursing routes that I liked. Taking this time to gain knowledge and healthcare experience was beneficial in choosing the PA career path and being certain that this was the career path I wanted to pursue. The interactions I had with my patients while exploring the healthcare route had the greatest influence in encouraging me to continue a career where I could continue to be involved in their care.


Why the Mount PA program? What separated the Mount from other PA programs?


Applying to PA programs as an MSJ alumni, MSJ was my first choice. As an undergraduate student I received a high level of commitment, knowledge, and support from the faculty and staff. After expressing my interest to apply to the MSJ PA program, former MSJ professors were excited to provide me with support and encouragement while helping me through the application and interview process. This reminded me and further highlighted the high level of dedication and investment that MSJ faculty and staff has for their students. Being in the program, professors and staff continue to uphold these standards.


What was your healthcare experience before this? How did it prepare you for PA school?


I obtained my STNA certification and worked as a PCA in a telemetry unit at Bethesda North hospital. This position provided an introduction to medical terms, procedures, precautions, and aseptic techniques that are fundamental in working in a healthcare setting. Additionally, it helped develop good patient interaction techniques and dynamics by working closely with patients every day. Being around a healthcare team, I was able to address questions and curiosities about healthcare. Additionally, I decided to gain experience as a microbiologist which further aided me in improving aseptic technique and gaining more knowledge of microbes relevant to healthcare.


What do you do in your free time to unwind?


I enjoy jogging and taking my dog to parks!


What have you learned while being a PA student during the COVID-19 crisis that you will carry with you into your career?


Being a PA student during the COVID-19 crisis highlights the important role that healthcare providers have in patient education and disease prevention. Patients understanding what COVID-19 is, how it spreads, and what to do to prevent it is essential in controlling this pandemic. As healthcare providers we have to promote patient education in large scale situations such as this pandemic, but also at in individual level scale by ensuring that patients are fully educated on different aspects of their condition including etiology, management, and prevention.


For more information on MSJ's Physician Assistant program, please click here.