There are defining moments in every person’s life. Although they can be brief periods of time, these moments contain the profound power, desire, meaning, and perseverance to reshape one’s entire life. My pathway through schooling and medicine had led me to one of these moments. A moment where I knew exactly what I needed to do and the challenges I face ahead.
After obtaining my cardiovascular technology degree, I started working at UC San Diego medical center with the Department of Electrophysiology. As with most aspects of medicine, we rarely work in isolation and the team-based approach to electrophysiological care is truly a form of art. It was here that I met a patient that would change my life. Jane S. is a 26-year-old female with a past medical history of supraventricular tachycardia scheduled for a routine catheter ablation. I first met Jane in the preoperative holding area. She came from an unsafe neighborhood and we both happened to speak the same native language. She was anxious about her procedure which was easy to relate to; what average 26-year-old girl has any clue what an ablation is? Somehow, through the circumstances of chance and the inadvertent delay of a case, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jane and answer all of her questions. I ran her through the entire procedure, from start to finish. I never felt more connected to a patient.
The case started routinely. Jane was being intubated by the anesthesiologist, the nurse was placing a foley catheter, I was putting on the 12-lead EKG electrodes. Everything felt organized and efficient. We obtained femoral venous access and the procedure was underway. To this day, I am still not quite sure what went wrong. I’ve learned that the possibility of life or death is forever present in medicine, even in things that feel routine. Over the next 18 minutes, I did whatever I could do to help, thinking the entire time please don’t let this be happening to Jane.
Charge to 200 Joules. Shock. Epinephrine 1mg. Pulse check. Resume compressions.
There are defining moments in every person’s life mixed with the purest of emotions. The anxiety, fear, despair, hope and overwhelming joy I felt watching Jane eventually walk out of the hospital has changed my life. A good patient outcome is always joyous, but why was this so special? Why was I feeling so different about this patient compared to the several other codes I have participated in before? The answer was simple.
It was because I had talked to Jane before her procedure. I had the opportunity to learn about her, answer her questions, and address her concerns. There was an unspoken trust that came with that conversation, which filled me with an unspoken responsibility to her. This connection has fueled my unwavering desire to play a more central role in patient care.
Becoming a physician assistant is a necessity to achieve the satisfaction and fulfillment that I am searching for in my career. Jane’s background made me realize how much underserved patient populations need our help. My small role helping one anxious patient understand the specifics of her procedure has fueled my ambition to work with these populations in the future. I offer to honor this profession with a strong moral and work ethic, devotion, and allegiance to never discount how a single moment can change a person’s life. Thank you for your consideration.