Amanda Smithers dumped an interesting career to go back to school. “I didn’t feel like I was contributing to society,” Smithers said. “I …
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Amanda Smithers dumped an interesting career to go back to school.
“I didn’t feel like I was contributing to society,” Smithers said. “I didn’t feel like that was best for me or that I was using my best traits.”
She had joined the Marine Corps when she was 21 years old, and was trained as a Russian interpreter. She served for almost 10 years before deciding to try something different. She transitioned to working in security in West and South Africa.
While working in security, Smithers said, she did not have a sense of fulfillment. She thought her skills would be better put to use making a positive change in the world, so she began exploring going back to school to work in the medical field.
Now 38, Smithers enrolled at Red Rocks Community College and will graduate from the physician assistant program in September 2013. To further her education and to gain work experience, Smithers applied for the 2012 GE-National Medical Fellowships Primary Care Leadership Program and received a $5,000 scholarship.
For the rest of the month she will be working at a clinic in Jackson, Miss., with low-income people. According to Smithers, the clinic mostly serves patients on Medicare and Medicaid, and the uninsured.
Smithers said she would like to work for a family practice after graduating from Red Rocks. She said she would prefer to work in a rural area with the underserved, similar to her work in Jackson.
“That is definitely my passion,” she said.
In addition to the Leadership program award, Smithers received the William Conrad Rural Primary Care Scholarship in June 2011. Over two years she will receive $44,000 for her education.
Physician assistants are authorized to practice medicine under the supervision of licensed physicians. They are able to run many diagnostic and therapeutic services while working with a physician.
Red Rock’s program prepares students for the Physicians Assistant National Certifying Exam, which is administered by the National Commission for the Certification of Physicians Assistants.
Smithers said becoming a physician assistant is a good alternative for those who do not wish to go to medical school, or nursing, but still want to work in medicine and help people.
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