My STEP signature project focused on creating a personalized learning experience throughout the summer. I hope to attend graduate school to become a physician’s assistant and I used my STEP project to help me experience the heath care field in a way I never had before. I became a state tested nursing assistant (STNA), shadowed physician’s assistants, and volunteered at a hospital.
This experience was transforming for me for many reasons. I did not set any expectations for my experience in the beginning because I was not completely sure what to expect. But, I ended up loving every moment of my project from start to finish. I began this project knowing that I love to help people, but not having an outlet for this passion. I ended this project with experience helping people as well as a way to continue doing so in the future. I learned a lot about myself because the difference between knowing what you want to do and actually doing is huge. Caring for another individual is much harder than it seems , but is also incredibly rewarding in the end. Each step of my project gave me inside about the medical world and about myself.
Seeing patient care from different perspectives gave me an inside look at what I would be doing daily later in life. I assumed that this would be easy for me, but sometimes it can be hard and sometimes it can be very sad. Even though I thought I was strong and could handle seeing most everything, there are things that can still affect me. For example, during the clinical hours of my STNA training, I actually had to work in a nursing home helping to feed, clothe, bathe, etc. the residents. This was hard because these people used to be young like me and now they cannot do anything on their own. Upon reflection after this clinical, I was sure that choosing healthcare was the right decision for me. I was passionate about each resident I cared for and felt so successful after making them smile or knowing that I had done a good job. I know that it is easy for people to go through the motions in this sort of job, so I knew that if I didn’t enjoy what I was doing it would be just as easy for me to fall into this routine. But, it makes me happy to help other people and I learned that this work is hard but very rewarding. I am also happy that I completed this project because it has given me confidence in the path I have chosen which was something I didn’t have before.
My STEP signature projected consisted of 3 parts and each contributed to my transformation over a one month period in their own way. As I mentioned before, my STNA class had a big impact on my transformation. I learned how to care for someone on the most personal level which is something I have never done before. I was able to grow in my love for helping others and obtain a certification that will allow me to work in the hospital and do it for a living which is a huge step in my journey to becoming a physician’s assistant.
Job shadowing was another thing that impacted my transformation. I shadowed a physician’s assistant at Beacon Orthopedics in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was able to observe during clinic hours and during outpatient surgery. Clinical hours were great because I was able to actually see health care from the eyes of a person that I aspire to be. I was able to observe bedside manner and how to communicate successfully with a patient. I also got to see exactly what a PA does when assisting in an operating room which is something I would enjoy doing during my career.
As a volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital, I helped out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where premature babies are taken care of until they are healthy enough to go home with their parents. Here, I was able to cuddle babies as well as participate in activities that made the families feel comfortable and welcome in the unit. Cuddling is a technique used to calm babies that were exposed to drugs and alcohol in the womb. The contact with another person calms them and helps as they go through painful withdrawals from the drugs. This opened my eyes to a serious health problem in our society and one that I would be interested in working with more in the future. Many babies are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome
The transformation I made during my project is vital to my personal and professional goals of getting into PA school and becoming a PA. This project created a confidence about my career path in me that I did not have before. I gained shadow and volunteer hours that will help me get into graduate school. I made connections with a PA who can write me recommendation letters in the future, which will also help me in getting into graduate school. Also, my new certification will allow me to work in a hospital and gain the patient care hours that are the most important necessity in my graduate school application. Overall, this project has really increased my chances of one day achieving my dreams and I am very happy about that! I feel much more prepared for the future after gaining real experience and giving myself the chance to continue doing this for the next few years before I begin graduate school.
Here is a picture of me during my shadowing experience in an operating room!