Student Spotlight: Michelle Miller
My name is Michelle and I’m a current junior in the Bachelor of Health Science program, aspiring to become a Physician Assistant. I’m originally from Long Island, NY and moved to Florida upon the beginning of my first semester at the University of Florida.
Both the University of Florida and the College of Public Health and Health Professions have awarded me with the experiences that I feel have made me into the person I am today. Additionally, these are the experiences that I feel will continue to help me grow as an individual when my time at UF comes to a close.
I’m proud to serve as the President of the Pre-Physician Assistant Association here at UF. As president, my responsibility is to book PA’s throughout various specialties to speak at each one of our meetings, describing the journey they took to becoming a Physician Assistant. This position has awarded me with both the opportunity to network with a great number of PA’s and secure my desire in pursuing this profession. After all, the best way to learn if a certain career is right for you is to hear from the practicing professional first hand! You may ask, why Physician Assistant and not a Doctor? Well of course PA school is much shorter than medical school, therefore you could start practicing medicine as a PA at a much younger age. Additionally, PAs have what is known as lateral mobility in which they are able to switch specialties if they choose to do so, allowing them to explore a wide variety of fields in medicine. Although, my interest in the PA profession truly arose when I was awarded the opportunity of shadowing a PA in Geriatrics at UF Health Shands Hospital. One afternoon while shadowing, I observed the PA speaking to the patient regarding their plan of care. As soon as the PA finished chatting with the patient, the patient took the PA’s hand and whispered, “Out of all the people that step into my room per day, you are the only one that is consistent.” Now Shands is a teaching hospital, therefore doctors upon residents, nursing students, etc. bombard the patient’s room each day. Therefore, for this patient to compliment this PA in such a way, considering the many providers that would visit her room, was pretty admirable. In that moment, I could see in the eyes of the patient the sense of both reliance, reassurance, and trust that this PA brought to them and I knew I wanted to give that exact feeling to my patients one day. I hoped of pursuing a career in that my patients had faith in me to follow-up on their condition until they improved. Therefore, I decided to pursue the PA career and haven’t looked back since.
In order to gain my patient care experience that is required for PA school, I am also a Patient Care Assistant on Unit 75 Medical/Surgery at Shands. As a PCA, I assist my patients throughout the entire day with personal care. Additionally, I perform blood glucose checks, bladder scans, remove IVs, place in & out catheters, and connect patients to their EKGs. All tasks that I’m still astonished I am able to complete as an undergraduate. This position at Shands requires me to spend the majority of my days at with my patients, therefore I’m there with them at their worst. It’s the compassion I’ve developed through this job I aspire to carry alongside with me when I become a Physician Assistant.
If it wasn’t for the Bachelor of Health program, I wouldn’t have been awarded the opportunities I’m so grateful to have obtained at UF. As a freshman proceeding entrance into the PHHP college, I was lucky enough to serve as a mentee in a program titled Lead Educate Advocate Philanthropy (LEAP) led by BHS. As a mentee, I was paired with a mentor who was also on the Pre-PA track. It was her that educated me on the best ways to obtain patient contact hours, the correct pre-requisites to take for PA school, and what it is I can do to make myself stand out as an applicant. Most importantly, my mentor awarded me the confidence to apply for the position as the President of the pre-PA club. As a mentor in LEAP currently, I now have two wonderful mentees who I am able to lend my knowledge to and encourage them to pursue the PA career despite the hardships that may arise whilst applying. In addition to LEAP, I’m also proud to serve as a Health Professions College Council Ambassador. The class sizes in PHHP are just right in that you get to know not only your professors on a deeper level, but your cohort as well. Additionally, the PHHP advisors are constantly available to assist you when necessary and extremely personable to talk with. As an HPCC Ambassador, it is these benefits I’ve reaped from the BHS program that I choose to advocate to incoming freshman and sophomores interesting in becoming a part of PHHP.
Lastly, I am Chi Omega’s Relay for Life chair, an organization dedicated to raising funds for the American Cancer Society. I’m also a certified nursing assistant volunteer at the Helping Hands Clinic, dedicated to medically serving the underserved population in downtown Gainesville.
During my free time, I love to hang with my sorority sisters in Chi Omega! I also absolutely love to play with my dog. I will actually ride my skateboard as I hold on to her and she pulls me down the road. Additionally, I enjoy going to the beach to swim, suntan, and feel the cool ocean breeze against my skin! I feel it is a great stress reliever, as it allows me to put my worries aside for a moment and appreciate the beauty life has to offer.
I’m fortunate for my time spent at UF thus far and I’m thrilled to see what the future has in store for me on this very campus.
If you may have additional questions regarding the Pre-Physician Assistant Association, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I take pride in this organization and we aim in assisting pre-PA students in any way we can!