Her parents are both healthcare professionals — her father is a gastroenterologist and her mother is an internist — so Jennifer Pilchman, MSPAS, PA-C
, always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. But she also wanted to go into teaching.
As a faculty member in Salus University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program, Pilchman has now satisfied both of her childhood aspirations.
“This job is a great blend of both,” said Pilchman, who started as an assistant professor in the PA department in August 2022.
Originally from Horsham and Newtown, Pennsylvania, Pilchman graduated from Muhlenberg College with her bachelor’s degree in biology and followed that by securing her master’s at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). After graduation, she became involved in teaching per diem at PCOM and then decided she wanted to teach full-time.
“After I graduated, I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to really teach, even though I had the will to do it at the time,” she said. “I just needed to get more experience and see more patients.”
She also enjoyed giving back to students and now that she has the experience in both in-patient and outpatient medicine, she believes she has a lot to offer to both constituents of students and patients.
“I feel like I’ve always been good with people and reading individuals and I’ve always wanted to help those who are underserved and those of different backgrounds,” she said.
To that end, Pilchman is Hispanic and speaks Spanish, which she said helps her communicate clearly with Hispanic patients when she worked in both orthopedics and family medicine.
Her duties at Salus are with the clinical team and she does some lecturing as well, but consistently feels the support of the Salus faculty and staff.
“It’s a great group. They’re extremely friendly and outgoing and each of them has a different perspective. They really want you to succeed as a faculty member,” said Pilchman. “Seeing how they interact with students, they really want them to do well and they always have them in mind.”
When she’s not teaching physician assistant students, Pilchman is involved in community theater, mostly musicals. She likes to sing and dance, although she admits she’s mostly a singer. Her favorite musical is “Memphis.” She recently played the role of Camila in the Music Mountain Theatre’s production of “In the Heights.”
“The theater family in general is a very nice, accepting group of individuals with different backgrounds with some amazing talents,” she said. “Theater is a nice way to blow off steam at the end of the day and pretend to be a different person each night.”
Performing on stage and being in front of a class full of PA students provides some contrast that isn’t lost on Pilchman.
“Being on stage, the audience is in blackness or you look above them when you sing,” she said. “There’s not much of that in a classroom. The students are right in front of you and you have to answer questions.”
Pilchman isn’t looking too far ahead at this point while she concentrates on her teaching, but is considering her future and possibly securing her doctorate one day. For now, she is trying to learn as much as she can so that she can pass that knowledge on to her students.
“My focus right now is to put myself in situations where I feel a little bit uncomfortable, even if that means I need to ask a bunch of questions to the staff. I think that will make me an even better teacher for students,” she said.