#WCW -- Meet Candice Hite, PA-S

Meet Candice M. Hite, PA-S. She is currently in her third semester of PA school at the University of Kentucky, class of 2019. 

Why did you choose a career in health care?
I grew up in a poverty-stricken area of Louisville, KY and learned about healthcare disparities quite early. I experience first-hand the need of quality healthcare providers in low-income and urban communities. My desire to be able to make change combined with my love for science and the body contributed to my decision to go into medicine. My plan is become a primary care or pediatric PA and work in an underserved community just like one of the ones that I grew up in.

Have you always wanted to work in health care?
My interests have always been in healthcare. I started out wanting to be a pharmacist in high school and by the time I started my undergraduate career I was pre-med. It wasn’t until I discovered the PA profession my sophomore year of undergrad that I fell in love with it.

What motivated you to become a PA versus other careers in the medical field?
I was completely sold on becoming an MD until I learned about the PA profession. It boiled down to a lifestyle choice for me. I learned how PA’s are medically trained to save lives, treat patients, write prescriptions, etc. and still actually having time to have a life and I was sold! I aspire to be an awesome wife and mother one day and as a PA I’ll still be able to do so.

What advantages do you think PAs have versus other medical professions (MDs, NPs, RNs, etc.)?
PA’s are awesome!
·         The PA program is roughly 2 years versus the 8 years medical of medial training (medical school and residency)  
·         PA school is far less debt compared to medical school
·         Flexibility to switch specialties and not have to go back to school
·         Average PA salary is about $95,000 and it varies from state to state! There’s a dermatology PA in Lexington, KY that makes $200,000 yearly.

How did your undergraduate education help prepare you for PA school?
I obtained by Bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry at Northern Kentucky University. Having a strong science background helped me prepare for the rigorous courses in PA school. I also worked full-time as a pharmacy technician while going to school fulltime without much outside support. In doing so I was able to truly develop my work ethic, resilience and tenacity to make things happen. All the adversity I overcame throughout my journey to PA school helped develop me into the “by any means necessary” kind of student I am today.

What classes would you advise pre-PA student to focus on while they are in undergraduate?
My advice would be to focus heavily on anatomy and physiology. Don’t just learn it enough to pass the exam but really indulge into the material and really get a grasp on it. A&P is the foundation in which medicine is built on so if you could start PA school with a good knowledge on the subject you’ll be at an advantage! Biochemistry is another good one, I’m learning that now in pathophysiology.

What was one of the biggest challenges since you have been in PA school and how did you ultimately overcome them?
The transition of being and undergraduate student to a PA student wasn’t as easy as I excepted it to be. I was told I wouldn’t have a life but I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. PA school seriously consumes my life. I had to adjust to have 40-50 hour study weeks or being on campus for 12 hours to study for exams. I literally watched free time and fun fly out the window as I was being held hostage at the library day in and day out. My weekends even belonged to my studies. Most of the time I didn’t have time to cook, clean my apartment, do laundry or even my hair (which is a big deal to me lol). PA school took everything out of me then asked for more. It wasn’t until I began to reap the fruits of my labor (exam scores) that I began to get some sort of fulfillment/pleasure in studying all day & night.

What challenges have you faced as being a minority in the medical field?
I would say that I feel extra pressure in the classroom and in general to exude intelligence and professionalism. Navigating into the world of medicine I felt as though I had to watch the way I speak, the way I dress, and even the demeanor I give off. I believe the saying “you have to be twice as good just to be as good as them” to be true. Even now I find myself preparing for class the night before so that I’ll be able to answer questions or raise points in lecture to the professor just to “prove” my intelligence… Before I started PA school I did a complete reevaluation of what I portray to the world, especially on social media. Your name is your brand and you must protect it.

What advice would you give to other minority students who are looking to pursue as a PA?
YOU CAN DO IT! Point, blank, period. Mindset and perspective is everything and everything stems from it. You must know without a doubt that its possible. I’ve found that the lack of diversity in the profession (and in medicine) can cause a subconscious doubt in our head that can be self-limiting. Even I had to get it in my head that I too am worthy of acceptance and that I belong just like my counterparts. I learned to prophesize and speak things into existence and followed up with doing whatever I could to make it happen. I did whatever I could to align my steps into becoming the best applicant I could be.

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