Sarah Phillips is a first-year student in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Missouri State University and serves as the President for the MSU PA Class of 2022. With her first semester successfully completed and her second semester underway, she is already building a strong foundation of medical knowledge.
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Colleges attended and degrees earned (major/minor)
I played volleyball at the University of Arkansas- Fort Smith for one year before transferring to Missouri State University. I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry and Psychology.
Previous health care experience
I worked in a variety of settings prior to applying to PA school. I began working as a CNA at an assisted living/memory care facility before getting a job as a float CNA at a hospital. I also worked on a med surge/psych floor before getting a job as a tech in the emergency room.
Interesting fact about yourself
I went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala in 2019 that changed my life and reasoning for applying to PA school. I was taught to assist in the OR where we preformed primarily hernia repairs. Growing up in a white-collar town, it was a phenomenal experience to serve in such a medically underserved area. It was an eye-opening experience to see the disparities in healthcare, especially in a third world country. This trip is what drove my love for serving through medicine and has ultimately shaped the reason I want to be a physician assistant.
Why did you decide to become a PA?
The PA profession aligns with so many of my values and will also allow me to serve in a capacity that has the ability to hopefully alter individuals lives alongside a team of medical professionals. I have always been passionate about medicine and cannot wait to use that as a way to serve others in a way that can positively impact lives. The profession has made so many strides in terms of autonomy and I am so eager to collaborate with physicians to provide optimal care for my future patients. I love that this profession affords me the opportunity to not only work in one specialty, but to be trained in a manner where I will be able to choose to work in any specialty and healthcare setting. After shadowing many PAs and hearing nothing but positivity about their career path, it was an easy decision for me to choose PA. I am so excited to soon be a part of this growing profession that offers so much potential to impact healthcare.
Describe your experience so far in the program.
My first semester in this program has been nothing short of incredible. I have learned a tremendous amount about medicine, as well as grown as a person. It has definitely been an adjustment in terms of learning how to balance life with school, but I feel so supported by the faculty and my classmates. It has truly been incredible learning how to piece knowledge together to build a foundation that will allow us to dive deep into medicine this summer. I feel like I will leave this program as not only a successful provider, but a better person, well prepared for whatever opportunities come throughout life.
Why did you run for Class President?
I ran for class president to advocate for my classmates and ensure that every voice is heard. I know that It is vitally important to create a family culture where everyone feels like they belong, and each person knows they are an integral piece of this program with so much to offer. It is important to me that we are not only classmates, but we develop relationships outside of the classroom in order to support one another not only the next two years, but throughout our careers. As president, I feel so lucky to get to work with an incredible executive board to make all of this happen.
It is also important to me that as a class, we are involved with serving our community. We have gotten to do that in several ways in just a few short months, and I am eager to see what we will continue to be able to do. I am also extremely passionate about being able to mentor undergraduate students wanting to become physician assistants. I was poured into by so many MSU PA students as an undergraduate student and I feel that this position gives me the opportunity to do the same to hopefully impact the paths of others.
What do you bring to the position from your previous leadership experiences?
I was president of Missouri State’s Pre-Physician Assistant Society 2019-2020. I also served as the volunteer coordinator for PPAS 2018-2019. As the president of PPAS I learned so much about leading and grew a lot. Being the president of PPAS allowed for a smooth transition into my current role due to being familiar with Springfield, Missouri State, and already having connections within the community.
What do you like best about Missouri State’s PA program?
My favorite part of Missouri State’s PA program is how supported I feel as a student. Our professors do all that they can to ensure we succeed as future providers. Not only do they care about us as students, but they also care for us as individuals as well. With a smaller class size, it feels as if you are surrounded by a family. We spend a lot of time studying together, but also make time for coffee breaks, hot yoga, hikes, and dinners. It is crazy to think that people I met five months ago will be lifelong friends! I cannot imagine being at any other school, and I am so thankful that I get to call Missouri State home.
Do you have any advice for prospective PA students? Any helpful tips to prepare for PA education?
My biggest piece of advice for prospective PA students is to write your own story. The path to PA school is not straight and narrow, it is what you make it. Try not to compare yourself to those around you. As long as you work hard and enjoy what you are doing, you will be successful. Remember that you are so much more than an application with GPAs and test scores… Find things that set you apart as an individual and highlight those things as you go through the application process.
What specialty or career goals do you want to pursue? Why?
I began PA school thinking that I would without a doubt go into a surgical specialty, most likely orthopedics. As time goes on and I continue learning more about medicine, I feel like this may change. Though I was originally drawn to the intensity of the OR, I can also see myself in a setting where I am able to develop deeper relationships with patients in a clinic setting. I am trying to keep an open mind throughout my education and just see where I end up. No matter what specialty I end up in, I would love to be able to serve on medical mission trips around the globe.