When Jaclyn Greising fell seriously ill as a child, her family had nowhere to turn for care. Her father had recently lost his job in construction, along with the medical coverage needed for her treatment. Yet, after being turned away several times, the family met a physician assistant who, despite the family’s lack of insurance, was willing to treat Jaclyn because it was the right thing to do.
Inspired to give back and help others who found themselves in similar situations, Jaclyn pursued a career in primary care, becoming a physician assistant serving others who have no access to basic health care resources.
Jaclyn was working at the Maria de los Santos Health Center outside of Philadelphia when a colleague told her the center was a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) site, which meant she could apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program. "When I first started at the clinic, I quickly discovered over 90 percent of the community speaks Spanish,” she said. ”I struggled to keep up with the conversations around me and to learn how to communicate with them - not only in their first language, but in a way that resonated with their culture."
When she first started, a patient who spoke only Spanish came to her clinic. She could glean from their conversation that the results of a recent stress test indicated a problem with his heart. Despite the language barrier, she knew he needed to go to the emergency room that day, and before the end of the day he was having open heart surgery. When he returned to the clinic to express his gratitude, he brought his entire extended family to demonstrate how much her help had meant to him. As each of his family members embraced her, Jaclyn knew she was where she was meant to be. Even though she spoke not a word of Spanish at the time, she knew what they were saying – and that she had made a difference.
“Through our work at the clinic, I not only get to know my patients, but their families as well. This makes delivering quality care easier because I get to see the whole picture. From eating to everyday habits, I get to make an impact on their lives and change the shape of their future.”