Even as a child, I was sensitive to the idea of human suffering. Though I grew up with access to the best health care, my parents, educators who got their start working in the inner city, made sure I was aware of the discrepancies that existed in the world around me. I always knew I wanted to help people by working in the medical field. When I heard about the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) in high school, I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Though I’ve always wanted to practice medicine, it wasn’t until my junior year at the University of Washington that I decided to become a physician assistant (PA). The high cost of health care and lack of insurance limits access to care for many Americans. I wanted to become part of the solution to this problem. It’s why I went into medicine and the reason I love going to work every day. Becoming a PA is the single best decision I’ve made.
I applied to become an NHSC Scholar during my second year at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Though I was turned down the first time, I applied again during my third year and was accepted. Words cannot describe how excited I was to be part of the NHSC and fulfill my dream of practicing medicine in an underserved community. Even now, after completing my two-year service commitment, I still work at the same NHSC site where I fulfilled by commitment, Greenfield Mee Memorial Clinic. I’ve been at the clinic for seven years now, and I may never leave!
The majority of my patients are Hispanic and don’t speak much English. When I started at the clinic, I didn’t speak a bit of Spanish. But my patients helped me. Now I am proud to say I almost always work without a translator. Working in a community with limited access to health care keeps me grounded. It reminds me every day why I went into medicine. It makes me a better person, community member and father.
I love working at the Greenfield Mee Memorial Clinic and my wife and I lived in nearby King City for the first three years of my service commitment. We loved hiking at Pinnacles National Park, boating on Lake Nacimiento and mountain biking at Fort Ord. One of the things I really liked about King City was its size. Since it was a small community you really got to know everyone. Plus, the local Mexican food is the best I’ve ever had!
I am grateful to have the opportunity to wake up every day and do something I love. It’s so rewarding to be an NHSC member because I know this work helps people. For me, there is no better path to personal fulfillment and happiness.