Bay Path University’s Class of 2019 physician assistant (PA) graduate students have traveled from near and far to begin a new chapter in their education and careers, driven by one singular motivation: to earn an MS in Physician Assistant Studies.
The 30 graduates represent eight different states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Utah, Ohio, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. They range in age from 22 – 46 years old, and tout an impressive average total overall GPA of 3.6. Several students have done mission work, one is a Marine Veteran, and many speak second and third languages including Spanish, Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese, Swahili, French, and Japanese. And they bring astute insight to their studies in the field of medical science, with a wealth of previous professional experience. Our new physician assistant graduate students have held titles including medical assistant, emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), physical therapy assistant, licensed practical nurse (LPN), pharmacy technician, radiology technician, phlebotomy technician, home health aide, and nuclear medicine technologist.
Read on to meet a few members of this impressive class of physician assistant students.
Nisha Malik G’19
Mount Holyoke College, Biology/Psychology
When I came to Bay Path University (BPU) for my initial interview, Theresa Reithle said to me, “This program is not about grades. It's about becoming a compassionate, passionate practitioner.” That stuck with me.
I instantly knew that I wanted to earn my master’s degree at BPU, because that philosophy is exactly the reason I want to be a physician assistant. To be the best provider I can be, and one who can connect and reconnect with patients, I need to have empathy towards each person I meet.
Several years ago, my mother grew ill and needed to take frequent trips to the hospital. At her appointments, I gained exposure to the roles and responsibilities of providers, especially PAs, who had a significant amount of face time with her. I realized I was interested in becoming a healthcare provider and could fulfill the duties of a PA.
I’ve explored different professions in this field including working as a CNA and a clinical lab coordinator at Valley Medical Group in my hometown of Greenfield, Massachusetts, and completing internships in hospitals in India, where I was born, to enhance my understanding of healthcare from a global perspective.
Now, I’m most excited about conquering my fears. The curriculum is dense and I’m feeling the pressure already, but I know my hard work will pay off. I can’t wait to finally be in an office setting treating patients, and once I become an established practitioner, I want to make contributions back to both communities that have supported me so much throughout my life.
Kittiya Arisarachai G’19
Columbia University, Neuroscience and Behavior
I wanted to work in a health care profession for many years, but in Thailand, it’s unusual to change your field of study and go back to college once you've earned a degree. My first bachelor’s is in sociology and anthropology, and I have a master’s degree in business management. I came here to the United States where I could begin my journey in the health sciences. Most recently, I studied neuroscience and behavior at Columbia University, and worked as an emergency room technician.
At Bay Path, we are a tight-knit community. The PA Class of 2019 is small enough to know everyone, but big enough to learn from each individual, too. My classmates and I come from many different backgrounds and have vastly different experiences, but we are united by our commitment to caring for others as future physician assistants.
I know that my empathetic demeanor and drive to learn are going to blossom in this program. The faculty are dedicated to teaching students and valuing our differences to bring out the best in us. I will leave this program prepared to practice medicine as a physician assistant, and I couldn’t be more excited to take this next step in my career.
Stephen Sasso G’19
Marist College, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Music (minor)
In high school, I participated in a pre-college academic program that gave students the opportunity to get a “top down” look at how hospitals work. We did clinical rotations in each and every department from the operating room to central supply and environmental services. We saw it all, from natural births to cardiac surgery.
Originally, I wanted to be doctor. But through that experience and patient contact hours, I found that healthcare in our country is shifting to where there isn’t much time for doctors to talk to patients. I'm very personable and want to give each patient as much time and attention as possible, and the provider role that most closely embodies my ideal career is that of a physician assistant.
I hadn’t heard of Bay Path, but one day, I received a letter in the mail inviting me to apply to this program. Of the 14 schools I applied to, Bay Path, for me, is the best fit. I’m ready to give my all to my studies and the various coursework, and am looking forward to becoming an expert at tying together symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments to lessen the effects of a disease. I’m trying to take a holistic approach to healthcare, which I see as a driving force of this program—culturally competent, compassionate PAs, as noted in the program mission statement.
Andrea Fachini G’19
North Adams, MA
Although I was accepted to a few programs, I chose Bay Path because I felt it would best prepare me for my career, and in Western Massachusetts there are great economic opportunities for me and my husband. We’ve moved around quite a bit over the years, from Oregon to New York, but recently we happily relocated to East Longmeadow to be part of this community.
I began my career as a medical assistant, and that sparked my interest in taking my education to the next level. I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree at that time, but during a difficult pregnancy found an opportunity for myself to study online. I later transferred to MCLA and completed my four-year degree in biology in December.
Working at community health center with rotating residencies, I found myself quickly knowing answers to the practitioners’ complex questions on health, policies, and best practices. I wanted to explore options available to me and began looking at graduate programs.
I’m eager to get into the second year of this program so I can gain experience as a PA during the rotations. I love learning and am sure that the next two years will fly by—and then I can get out there and fulfill by dream of practicing medicine as a physician assistant.