In my early years as a teenager, I had the conviction that I wanted to work in a profession related to medicine, a motivation I got from my mother who was a doctor, and my father who is a physician. It all began when I walked with my parents toward the performing arts building in College Park, Maryland one humid summer afternoon. The feeling was overwhelming as I had been chosen along with only a few other select groups of students, to participate in a classical piano competition at the University of Marylands College campus by my then classical teacher, Mrs. Rhee. Dressed in a suit and a tie, I could feel sweat dripping down my whole body. I wished this would be over soon as stepped over each crease in the sidewalk with my head facing down. I started taking piano classes at the age of five, and I had performed multiple recitals.
Even with all the experience, after countless hours of practicing at home, I still felt that I was not well prepared for what was about to ensue. As we walked inside the quiet building, I opened up my piano book filled with pieces of renowned composers and musicians history as I waited for my slot outside the music hall. This book has all the information from composers such as Chopin, Beethoven, and Mozart, which acted as a guideline for the classical number; I was to play, written by the German, Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece was covered by markers of different colors made by my teacher. These notes on the pages would seem like erratic scribbles to an ordinary eye with little or no musical knowledge. When my name was called, I walked into the hall quietly with only the sound of my black shoes being heard on the wooden floor. With only the three judges and myself in the amphitheater room, I bowed, introduced the song I was to perform, took a seat, and began to play.
Learning to play classical piano music is treasonable to the career of a Physician Assistant. This is like a marketing myth, though not proven by scientific studies and research that suggest that when a pregnant woman places headphones playing classical music around their bellies, they end up producing a smatter baby. This idea has some Mozart effect. There are several traits learned from playing the piano that potentially prove beneficial to the role of a Physician Assistant. First and foremost, one needs to have a better response to criticism. At the age of 11 years, my teacher used to raise her voice at me or even slap my wrists to correct my bad behavior. Although this was seemingly harsh, it was a constructive criticism. At the age of 23 years, I am now a prospective Physician Assistant student. The career of Physicians requires strict supervision. Therefore, it is evident that advice, instruction and criticism will be handed down from my supervisors, whether constructive or harsh. With prior experience from my school days, I believe that I am capable of handling all the pressure that comes with this profession.
The second trait that is required in this business is the enhanced ability to deal with stress. As a kid, I had the problem of stage fright. Performing recitals in front of judges and a crowd was very stressful. After playing for churches, various events as well as accompanying singers for their performances, I have learned ways to overcome and manage stress. In the same manner, stressful situations for a physician will be routine. For example, working in the emergency department and having to perform minor surgery will require tactfulness and the ability not to be flustered. Lastly, the other trait required is the of split concentration. At the early stages of learning the piano, it can be difficult to coordinate the two hands to each play a different key. With classical and other styled music, the left and right hands are always playing different keys and notes to duplicate the beautiful sound constructed by the composer. Consistently, as a Physician Assistant, I will use my now improved multitasking skills to see patients, review lab, and test results, look at charts, answer questions from staff, fill out paperwork and return phone calls. Each of the traits mentioned, among others are parallels between a classical pianist and a Physician Assistant. This came to my realization while working as an orthotic fitter for the Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute, a center for advanced orthopedics.
Additionally, as a lover of sports I participated in elementary and high school sports and college intramurals though not possessing all the physical attributes. I mostly enjoyed offering the athletes professional help when they were injured. Athletic training, PT and Medical School were all ideas I had, ut it was not until later on did I feel that PA School was the route for me. On this line of reasoning, I knew I was intrigued by the detailed and diagnostic services that came with being a PA that not all PTs or athletic trainers were involved. That being said, the main reason is the lateral flexibility PAs have in that they are trained in all specialties. They have the ability to work in various disciplines whereas physicians must go through a residency to change specialties. As one who is passionate about sports, I am interested in becoming a PA within the realm of orthopedics. Working at the orthopedic center at MMI showed me first hand I would enjoy that. Nevertheless, it is nice to know there is latitude to work potentially within another area of possible interest if I wished to broaden my horizons.
To conclude, it is my belief that the capacity of being a PA is in tune with my personal disposition and skill set. With all my experiences as a pianist, I have found that I am at prime after having to work in a team to execute all the guidelines given to me whether in front of the piano or on the field. I have gained the necessary skills over time, having worked at MMI alongside Pas. I was able to fit braces and prosthetics and was able to understand that consultation by PAs is operated freely and individually. I have also leaned always to give my all to what I aspire to do. Whether it was putting countless hours in preparation for a piano recital or putting all-nighters to study for multiple tests in a week, I have always given my all despite all the disappointments along the way. Finally it is not so much about the past, as it is about the present and future; what matters most is what you do now, and how you move forward. These are my fathers words. In retrospect, I can honestly say I have taken these words to heart, along with my lifes disappointments and mistakes, not only to better myself as a person but with ambitious and high hopes, to better the lives of others as a PA.
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