The son of a nurse and a social worker, James Pecard always knew he would spend his life helping people with limited resources. It wasn’t until he spent time volunteering at a community health center during his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that he realized how he would help. Through shadowing experiences with Anne Slaughter PA-C, James found the physician assistant profession the best way to fulfill his commitment to social justice.
Ever since he completed his PA training and Masters in Medical Science at Midwestern University- Downers Grove, he has been a practicing clinician treating the medically underserved in the Chicagoland area. Although his service commitment with the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has concluded, James is still dedicated to helping the medically underserved by improving access to care under the Affordable Care Act among many other things.
James provides primary care to a predominantly African American and Latino uninsured patient population in the Uptown, Humboldt Park, and Cabrini Green neighborhoods of Chicago. However, during the past year, new health coverage options have emerged. “Fortunately for my patients, Cook County was able to implement coverage under the Medicaid expansion created by the Affordable Care Act a year early which has made a real difference. Our clinics have staff on hand to help patients sign up for new insurance options.”
Joining the NHSC has been a positive experience for James, “you get so much life and clinical experience from the people you take care of every day.” He also volunteers in his community by bringing meals to the homeless, and abroad by taking biannual medical relief to Honduras. In addition, he mentors students interested in the PA profession and educates PA students from Northwestern University in the clinic and the classroom. He has one piece of advice for other clinicians just starting out: “Learn how to listen. It sounds simple, but it is so critical. You may be the first medical professional your patient has seen in 5-10 years. You have a chance to make a difference by really hearing what they are saying, and by showing compassion for what they are experiencing.