Cafe Reflections on Journey Towards Grad School

The decision on going to grad school, at least from a recent graduate of college oftentimes isn’t that hard. Decades ago, the decision to pursue grad school wasn’t a top priority. Getting a job was. Nowadays, many decide to pursue a higher degree beyond the typical bachelors degree. Unfortunately, demands of certain jobs require this.

I think healthcare falls under this category. Many times, those who wish to pursue a career in healthcare, most often than not continue their schooling way beyond the bachelors degree that one obtains in university. From my own experience, such is the case.

I came out of college wanting to pursue a master’s degree because it was required to become a healthcare professional. I wanted to become a physician assistant, because I had an opportunity to learn a speciality that I found as an entity most needed amongst those who couldn’t get basic medical services that are needed. Some pursue speciality care. However, I wanted to pursue a career that is most needed and often times the most under appreciated.

With stiff competition, 2 rounds of applications towards nursing school, and a desire to see health from a big picture perspective drawing from personal experience of work in the clinic as a front and back office medical assistant, I pursued a degree in public health. Loved my program, loved the course work, loved the fact that I got to write a thesis on something that I really wanted to learn more about. It led to jobs that I’ve held for several years now — clinical research and now implementation of what’s been studied in the real world — chronic disease prevention and management through utilization of lifestyle intervention programs and health education.

I love my job. I love what I do. However, that bug of wanting to pursue that degree to work in primary care has never left me. Despite the internal mental debates I have with myself that I love what I do, I have a master’s degree, that bug hasn’t left me. So I reflected and thought to myself — What do I want? What can I do? Am I crazy? I thought about my experience in healthcare, specifically direct patient contact — did I love what I do? You bet…did I like helping those with basic questions that I could answer, yeah. Did I enjoy my work even when it was crazy and patients sometimes would throw furniture in the patient room? Scary…but I loved it (Yes this happened to me when a patient did get a refill of an option). Then I started thinking about my current role in public health — did I love what I do? Yes.

So how could I combine the best of both worlds — primary care and public health? Well, the answer was simple. I could do both, because it’s through the eyes of an individual who can see both the big picture and narrow focused that allows one to see what’s in the middle, the Goldilocks of two extreme worlds.

So, I decided that I would revisit my first love, and I’ve made the decision to pursue a 2nd master’s degree. Rather than go for a 3rd round towards nursing (specifically entry level master’s programs), I decided that I would pursue studies towards becoming a PA. During my time of reflection, who impacted me the most while in the clinic and even now, working with providers in the clinics to promote lifestyle intervention programs? Interestingly enough, it’s the PAs. This led to my decision to pursue this application and I applied to a developing program in California because I wanted to be in a location where I can not only learn in the state I grew up win, but near a region in which I’ve practiced and know for the past decade.

My app is in via CASPA and the school I’ve applied has my application. Honestly, it’s nerve racking, because I know through forums that the first round of interviews have already been scheduled, and despite having turned in my app about a month ago, and as of last week, the school has received my app, the nerves are there. Will I get the chance to interview? Will my pursuits lead to nothing? Can I handle the course load given that the last time I was in school was about 3 years ago? Trust me, I had reservations going into this, and my insecurities of pursing a 2nd master’s is there.

Sitting at a local Starbucks studying for refresher courses such as physiology has led to a post about my pursuits towards a 2nd master’s, and I think it’s a worthy reflection to share. Work and core science courses is not easy, but it’s do-able. Pursuit of a 2nd master’s when others at my place in life are settling down is crazy, but I think it’s worthy doing it because I won’t ever have such a chance as I get older.

Thus, the journey is on it’s way. Whatever happens…well, happens. However, I’m glad to pursue this, and if this round isn’t what I expect, then I’ll give myself an extra go around….the thing is, I want to pursue this…I’m willing to give myself these shots, and hey, if it doesn’t happen, I’m ok with that. Yet, to not try and pursue my first love at all, well…I may regret it later on in life.

So, here is my cafe reflection on my pursuits towards becoming a healthcare provider and a 2nd master’s.


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