MEDdebate interviews Jazmine Kwong on her journey to becoming a PA.


86a3b302be9108546879575d095bd023My name is Jazmine Kwong, PA-S and I am 25 years old. Born and raised in Los Angeles but I love traveling to new places. I started dancing in high school and have been dancing ever since. Hip hop, salsa, jazz and contemporary styles are my favorite~ anything you can move your hips to! In 2016, I was a finalist for the Los Angeles Laker Girls. When I can, I teach youth and adult dance classes. I love spending my time with family and friends eating and exploring.

1. How was your experience studying abroad in New Zealand? How did being a student in New Zealand differ from your time in the US?

It was splendid, I learned so much about myself as a student and as a solo traveler. I spent a semester in South Island but I explored the whole country during my time there. New Zealanders (Kiwis) are the nicest people on the planet and their country is lush and beautiful. Academia was tough but doable. One huge difference was how much final exams were weighted. In the US, most final exams were 20-30% of your grade. In NZ, most were 70% of your grade! We would get study weeks- in preparation for the exams. I finished most of my upper division courses for Neuroscience in NZ and my, was it tough!

2. Could you tell us about your experience working as an EMT?

After EMT school, I found work on an ambulance. I was certified to drive the biggest ambulances. I’m 5 foot two inches, so I received many surprised looks when I jumped out of the driver’s seat. Also, many underestimated how much I could lift. With the help of my partner, we lifted patients that were 300 pounds! It was exhilarating when we had car accidents or psychiatric calls, it was always unpredictable! I really enjoyed working with my partners and RNs, they made 11 hour shifts more pleasant.

3.  When did you decide you wanted to be a PA?

It was junior year of my undergraduate career. I volunteered to shadow a physician but the facility only had PAs available. I was pre-med up until this point; I aspired to be a surgeon but agreed to shadow a PA. Wow, my perspective and choices changed from there. My orthopedic PA taught me so much and educated me on the PA profession and what the future will be like. From this point~ I was pre-PA 100%.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring PAs?

Network! Reach out, contact people, and communicate. Do not be shy. We have a growing Instagram community and it’s really easy to get advice on there. If you don’t make it into PA school your first year, keep trying, keep that fire inside of you burning. It took me three tries and I finally made it in due to perseverance!

5. How important was shadowing/ volunteer work in your journey?

It is very important to shadow and volunteer. I was able to understand the role of a PA in different settings because of my shadowing experiences. What are PAs allowed to do in the Emergency department, in a clinical setting and in surgery? Shadowing gave me incredible insight and will prepare me for my future career! Volunteering is something I prioritize even after my acceptance to PA school. Compassionate care is what it is all about.

6. What are your top three CASPA application tips for future applicants?

1)Read ALL the requirements for each of your programs. I was unsuccessful my first time applying because I misread the requirements. So don’t make the same mistake!
2) Have multiple people proofread your personal statement, essay questions and overall CASPA. Make sure they see what you are trying to portray to admission committees.
3) Research each program and apply to schools that fit YOU. I found it tough to complete answers to certain programs when I couldn’t see myself going there. I was applying just to broaden my chances. There’s nothing wrong with maximizing your chances, however be sure that’s where you want to go because it’ll make your answers more genuine.

7. How do you find a healthy work-life balance?

I love dance but I also enjoy kickboxing and archery. I own a 30-lb recurve bow and go out to the ranges when I can. When I want to change up my weekly routine, I’ll sign myself up for a kickboxing class. I try to manage my time with working out, work, family and friends. I would alternate each night with a workout or hangout – this keeps me sane from work.

8. In a recent post on social media, you wrote , ” Don’t compare your chapter one to someones chapter twenty “. Have you ever compared yourself to others?

Yes, I have compared myself to my good friend and now orthopedic PA-C Mike. We both started shadowing the same orthopedic PA and he was already getting interviews. I was barely discovering this profession and he was getting considered by many schools. He was much older and told me he had little healthcare experience and average grades. I started to compare his statistics to mine when I heard the news that he was admitted to PA school. I did this time and time again when I went onto the forums online. I was defeated after my first time applying and even more so when I was rejected on my second attempt. You can compare yourself, but don’t obsess over it. We all have our own timelines and we need to trust the process. The important thing is to keep going and to keep believing in yourself.

9. What has been the biggest obstacle that you overcame?

Getting admitted to PA school! There are so many moving parts as to why I didn’t get in my first or second try. There was no clear answer as to why I didn’t get in. So I improved on grades, personal statement, essays, volunteer hours, shadow hours, patient care hours, healthcare hours, attending state conferences for PAs, spending time with actual PA students.. anything that was possible.

10. What are your aspirations for the future?

I see myself working as a PA-C in a hospital and perhaps being first-assist in surgery. Neurosurgery is peaking my interest right now so maybe a Neurosurgery PA-C! I hope settle down and raise a family while this all happens. Lastly, I want to continue to help aspiring PAs become PAs.
You can follow Jazmine on Instagram @jazminek_pa

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