First-Year Physician Assistant Student: Isabela Ugarte
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First-Year Physician Assistant Student: Isabela Ugarte

My name is Isabela Ugarte and I am a first-year Physician Assistant (PA) student here at Salus University. I came to Salus directly from my undergraduate education at Loyola University Maryland. I received a Biology degree, was a collegiate athlete all four years, and a member of a local fire station where I volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) earning clinical hours.

You could say the medical field is “in my blood,” since my father and grandfather are both physicians and my mother and grandmother are both nurses. Being an EMT really gave me great experience in patient care, but it also enhanced my interest in medicine and a desire to learn more, leading me to apply to PA school and pursue this career path.

Isabela's coffee potI think I can speak for all my classmates when I say that PA school is challenging and at times feels a bit overwhelming, but truly rewarding.

Here is what a typical day of mine is like:
6:30 a.m. Alarm goes off! I roll out of bed and first things first…coffee! As my coffee brews, I get dressed in business casual clothing (which I have grown accustomed to now) and get ready for the day.

7:00 a.m. On the dot, a “thought for the day” text from Grandma. It says: “Your life is determined not so much by what life brings you, as by the attitude you bring to life.” ~ Khalil Gibran (For the past few years now, my Grandma sends a text message to all 14 of her grandchildren. The “thought of the day” comes every morning during the school year and can be motivational, religious, funny, or factual—but always anticipated!)

Students walking on the track7:15 a.m. I pour my coffee into a to-go mug, pack my lunch, take my breakfast and I am out the door walking to school. My apartment is two blocks from school so I have the convenience of a 10 minute walk door to door.

7:30 a.m. The library opens and I am in my usual morning study spot. I review my notes and prepare for my classes for the day.

8:30—11:30 a.m. Two morning classes

11:30 a.m. Lunch break! During lunch, some of my peers and I like to get up and get some steps in. Now that it is cold outside we walk around the indoor track at the Hafter Center.
12 p.m. Physical Diagnosis (PD) Lab: PD lab is one of my favorite classes. Every Thursday afternoon the class is split in half and then into smaller groups so it ends up being six students to one faculty member. In lab we learn the components of a physical exam and practice on each other. I love the small group setting and individualized attention PD lab offers.

2:30 p.m. PD lab is over and the other half of the class takes over the lab so I head back to the library to study.
PA students working in the lab
5:30 p.m. Study break/work out time. (I typically work out three, sometimes four times per week—rotating between the local YMCA, the fitness center in my apartment building, and the gym in the Hafter Center on campus).

Isabela's homework6:30 p.m. Dinner has already been meal-prepped and is ready to pull out of the fridge and heat up. Typically, I grocery shop and meal prep on Friday evenings to save time during the week.

7 p.m. Another round of studying

10:30 p.m. This is about the time each night I start to read the same sentence three times and know that I should finish up studying for the night. Before I turn off the light and flop into my bed, I briefly check social media and then text my loved ones “goodnight.” My head hits the pillow and my mind races through the day. I am thankful for the opportunity and can hope that overnight, my mind will make more space for the knowledge I will receive tomorrow.


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