My Journey to Becoming a Health Care Provider

So after college I moved back home wondering what I could do to help people more. I enjoyed my degree in nutrition but did not get an internship to become a dietitian.  I ended up working in a health and fitness club nearby and then started to learn more about either becoming a doctor or a Physician Assistant.  I was not real familiar with the PA yet but my mom’s doctor had one and I was able to talk with her about her career.  Then I began to look more seriously about it.  The idea of doing a shorter type medical program was very appealing and if I wanted kids one day I liked the idea of not working my life away.  I began to take more credits in order to apply at a local community college and then got a job at a hospital in Dallas called st. Paul.  Little did I know that it was a really big transplant hospital.  I was working there as a therapy tech, helping other physical therapists do their job with various patients.  I spent a lot of time helping stroke patients sit up in bed, practicing transfers and helping them walk.  I also helped many patients waiting for heart and lung transplants.  Some were so sick that they had to live in the hospital.  I had no idea people needed to do that.  I enjoyed it though because it made me realize I enjoyed talking with and getting to know the patients. Some were young with cystic fibrosis and I put them on a treadmill for so many minutes a day to keep their lungs going and keep them healthy for their transplants.  Some did pass away.  I remember one  younger girl having rejection of her new heart and passed away.  It was sad, but it really helped me to learn a lot and see a side of medicine some may never know.  During this time I was taking classes in the evening and working on applications to PA school.  I ended up applying to four programs, Duke, Yale, UT southwestern and Baylor College of medicine.  I figure if I didn’t get in I would keep applying and consider med school.  I had heard it was almost harder to get in to PA school because it was becoming more popular and they only took 30 per class.  The spring of 2001 I found out I got an interview at Baylor and got denied the other schools.  I was hopeful but still very nervous about getting in.  When I went down to Houston for the interview I was sure I blew it!  I interviewed with one of the staff of the program and felt like I did a terrible job, but about a month later I got the phone call that I got in.  I remember that I had gone for a run and when I got home I picked up the phone and realized I had a message waiting and it was the program director telling me


congratulations!  I was so excited.  Off to Houston I went that summer to get started in the program.  The next two and a half years were pretty crazy.  School was super intense but also fun and exciting.  Learning a lot I was excited to get going helping patients.  I had considered doing an internship at MD Anderson for a year but I was also tired of school and wanted to get some real life experience going.  I knew that I wanted to work in oncology but decided to start off in a family practice setting back in the town I was from.  Luckily the doctor already had a PA there so she helped me a ton.  Going from school to real life was daunting but it felt good to be helping patients.  My title then was Alison Hall, MS, PA-C.