Hello, my name is Ryan and I have recently been accepted into University of Wisconsin Madison’s MPAS/MPH dual-degree program. I will begin this Fall and I am beyond excited and blessed to begin this journey!! Growing up I’ve always had an interest and passion to help others around the world, especially those in underserved communities. I’ve worked in Chicago in the field of HIV/AIDS and sexual health prevention, education, treatment and case management, dedicating years to many marginalized communities in Chicago, including the LGBTQ, PLWHA, POC, youth, homeless, and low-income communities.
With horrendous events in Syria, where hospitals are no longer safe havens from attacks and other parts in the world where emergency care is so needed, I have become motivated to pursue my studies as a PA and hope to provide care abroad in similar situations. Though I have not begun classes yet as a PA student, I have an interest in infectious disease as well as emergency/trauma medicine.
What advice or ideas do you have in regards to combining those interests as a PA, especially abroad? What courses in particular, organizations, field experiences, rotations should I begin to think about and take advantage of during my school years to prepare me for practicing globally? What are realistic job opportunities PAs are afforded globally? Especially in emergency/trauma?
I recently read To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation in which he emphasizes our duty as global citizens to work to provide care to those most in need and to maintain a macro look on the world, in where we look beyond borders and nationality. This is a foundation to my values and passion to practice medicine, particularly abroad.
To be honest, the whole idea is overwhelming because I do not know where to begin, who to talk to or how to prepare. Many individuals I speak to and many program missions are focused on primary care in the US as the role of PAs and often challenge or question the idea of working abroad as a PA. I realize the importance of this and the the growing need of primary care in the US, especially as the population ages. However, my heart is to travel, to serve the children gassed in Syria, the malnourished in Madagascar, the survivors of natural disasters.
Please help me achieve these goals by providing me some advice to guide me to a path as a PA serving the international community.
Ryan, as I am reading your post I am getting goose pumps. The way you described your goals, feelings and the motivation behind them matches mine 100%. I am 41 y/o and I am currently evaluating PA programs. Congratulations on getting accepted at UWM! I have also lived in Chicago but fled (away from those harsh winters) to California 7 years ago. As I search for a PA program with emphasis in Global health I also feel overwhelmed. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Alexandra, my apologies for just now getting back to you. I am still figuring out this website and was unable to find my post until now. Thank you for your kind words and I wish you the best in seeking a PA program. It is hard finding a program that emphasizes global health, but in the past few months I’ve found that Emory has the greatest international clinical rotation opportunities. Many seem to only have one or two options for their students. Similarly, my university UWM only offers Belize as an option for clinical rotation experience. However, they have been flexible with me and are allowing me to find an international site that matches my career goals and will be willing to formalize it if the site meets all requirements. Despite this, I am having a hard time getting responses or finding formal partnerships already established with former PAs. I believe, finding a PA program for yourself is best and you can discuss tailoring your time as a student to learn about global health. Being in a MPH/MPAS program, my MPH year has allowed me more elective courses that I’ve decided to take that focus on global health. Additionally, UWM has a global health certificate program that I am currently completing too so perhaps look for PA programs that offer that as well.
I wish you all the best and keep in contact! I too wish to move to California when I graduate! Wisconsin winter is even worse than Chicago! Haha!