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My Six-Year Journey Through AHECSW

One’s journey to navigate their own path from high school to medical/PA school is daunting and confusing. I was searching for a program to affirm and bolster my interest. Dedicating over 6,000 hours to the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon (AHECSW), I credit the confidence in my decision to pursue a Physician Assistant path to their organization.

As a sophomore in high school, I had an inkling of interest in the medical field. In April 2015, AHECSW with the partnership of the local hospital hosted a “Diagnosis Day” where the doors of the ER and OR were open to students to reenact an emergent scenario — from an ambulance to the operating table and everything in between. I was overwhelmed with the sights and sounds in the hospital. In awe by the physicians and PAs who were hosting the event, a spark for medicine lit in me that day.

Through my time in high school, I attended every open seminar and lecture hosted by the Bright Works Program of AHECSW. There, my peers and I were able to learn dissections, suturing, CPR, general clinical procedures, and healthcare professions. The most memorable experience AHECSW provided me with was a tour of the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus and its hospital. Over the course of three days, I attended classroom lectures, rehearsed simulations with mannequins, and practiced patient encounters. I valued the problem-based learning model that helped make students more comfortable in real-life medical situations. On the first day, stepping onto the riverfront campus, I immediately felt at home. I thrived in this environment, and at the end of my time at OHSU, I was sure I wanted to be a PA.


In college, I was focused on my classes and GPA. AHECSW staff would always check in on me and offer support or guidance when I needed it. My motivation and drive remains unwavering with their continual support. During college, I was able to engage with students through Q&A panels and program development projects for their organization.

Immediately upon graduation, I started working as a medical assistant and ReConnect Scribe at Aviva Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in rural Oregon. As a Roseburg native, I felt a brewing passion to serve the community that once served me. At Aviva, I have enjoyed the quick pace and the varied work. I assisted in minor procedures such as biopsies, ultrasounds, EKGs, and wound cultures. I witness rare cases, work directly to address the opioid abuse in our community and provide Medically Assisted Treatment to the underserved. Overall, I gained over 2,000 clinical hours with a fantastic team of "Avivans".


In the future, I look forward to matriculating into a PA program and taking the next step toward pursuing what has become my passion.


Emily Do Reconnect Fellow 5th Cohort Certified Clinical Medical Assistant & Scribe

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