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Emory PA student wins AASPA scholarship

The American Association of Surgical Physician Assistant (AASPA) announces the 2016 Susan and Thomas Lusty Student Scholarship - Emory PA student Michelle Dao

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This is Michelle's essay just published in the AASPA newsletter "Suture line"

Having been exposed to the field of orthopedics for over five years as an orthopedic technician in addition to working as an eye bank technician, I frequently search for opportunities to step in to assist in any procedure. I found myself intrigued having granted the opportunity to discuss complex cases and surgical approaches with surgeons. I find it extremely rewarding to perform and see the impact of the actions made by the surgical team. The ability to follow a patient in their pre -operative, intra-operative and post-operative stages has been the most rewarding and enlightening experience. I have a tremendous interest and enthusiasm in playing a role in one of the most vital intervention in a patient's health concern.

I want to be a part of a team that makes the immediate, crucial life decision and the ability to take part in this level of impact on an individual's life. The unpredictable circumstance that may arise in the operative room suddenly becomes a gratifying, unique challenge. Every patient is unique and therefore each operative case has to be tailored to the patient's needs. I have learned that having a strong,  knowledgeable, and skilled surgical team plays a central role in a patient's path towards recovery. Throughout my training at Emory, I have taken on numerous surgical rotation opportunities and devoted time as an anatomy teacher assistant so that I could further develop these skillsets that are undoubtedly valuable in the practice of surgery.

I have many aspirations as I pursue a career as a surgical physician assistant. Foremost, I want to continuously find ways to improve and grow into becoming a well-skilled and competent surgical PA. I have learned that surgery is a skill that requires a great amount of knowledge both inside and outside of the operating room. It not only requires being skillful as a first-hand surgical assist, but also the ability to adapt as an internist as many patients now presents with multi-system disease processes. The ability to manage a patient throughout their recovery is as important as the intervention itself. As surgical PAs, it is our job to promote safety in the perioperative setting for our patients.

With the continuous growth in medicine stemming from newly designed studies and approaches, I believe that in order to be a skilled surgical PA one must have a constant hunger for knowledge and to always be current with medicine. With that, I am motivated to attend conferences and workshops throughout my career as well as research literatures in the field to expand my knowledge. Ultimately, I want to become a well-versed surgical PA, so that I can help design and conduct research studies to find greater surgical and treatment innovations. I hope to attain a leadership role and eventually become an adjunct clinical professor, as I find great pleasure in teaching and inspiring others. Altogether, these surgical experiences have given me great respect, admiration, and aspiration in the career of surgery that I greatly look forward to.

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