My journey to medicine has been one with quite a few ups and downs. I’ve failed exams, had moments of self doubt, even considered giving up once or twice. I can definitively say that I wouldn’t have made it this far - 4 months away from PA school graduation - without the relationship I have with my mom. She’s been my support system since day one, and is actually a huge reason why I went into medicine in the first place. When I was little, my mom was working her way through Nurse Practitioner school. My family was on vacation, and I was riding on the back of my mom’s bicycle holding my favorite bear – Rufus. I remember hearing a pitter-patter noise as we rode, and when we got back to camp, we found that Rufus had gotten his leg caught in the spooks of the bike and a hole was ripped in his leg. I was devastated and thought that I would never be able to play with my best friend again. But my mom had an easy solution, and one that has impacted my life every day since. She put a masking tape cast on Rufus’ leg and told me he would be all healed in 2 weeks. When those weeks passed, and he just had a simple scar on his leg (from where my mom sewn him up before re-taping a cast for him), I was amazed. From that moment on, I was hooked on medicine. I knew I wanted to be able to heal people the way my mom had healed my best friend.
As I got older, my mom continued to encouraged me to follow my dreams of going into medicine. She would always remind me that the road was rough, but that believing in myself and working hard would pay off. My mom had started out as a CNA in high school, and worked her way through school to achieve her dreams of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. She would tell me stories about the obstacles she had overcome and the patients she had seen, and what she had learned from them. She inspired me to start working as a CNA during undergrad so I would have some of those less glamorous experiences, which in turn would make me into a better provider. On the days when I had challenging patients or everything just seemed to be going wrong, I would think of how my mother would handle the situation, and imitate her. It’s something I still do with patients to this day.
The further I’ve gotten in PA school, the more my relationship with my mom has changed into one of mentorship. She walks the fine line between being a supportive, loving parent and being a provider shaping a future provider. She’s been there for me through the hard exams, giving me tips on how to remember something. We’ve had phone calls were she lets me cry to her and days when she tells me to suck it up and move on. She’s given me some of her books, and even her Welch-Allen Ophthalmoscope. The first person I ever did a full head-to- toe physical exam on was her. We discuss hypothetical patients and disagree on treatment options – I’m more conservative and by the textbook, and she has more clinical experience to fall back on. It’s been a great experience for both of us because we challenge each other in different ways.
While it may sound cliché to say that the relationship I have with my mom is the most influential in my life, and I definitely do have other important people, my mom will always be the go-to person. Growing up with someone in medicine who saw the whole picture, and not just a diagnosis greatly influenced the way that I approach a problem, and in turn will greatly change the way I approach a patient. I know that without her, I wouldn’t have gone to PA school and be only a few months away from graduating and starting my career in medicine. Her decision to become an NP, and her love and commitment to her field have shaped me in so many ways. I am thankful every day to have her as an inspiration, a mentor, and my mother.
About the author:
Erin Moore is a PA student at the George Washington University; before school, she worked as a CNA for 2 years while getting her B.S. in Health Science at the University of Florida. Erin spent two years working at UF Health in Gainesville, FL before beginning her journey in PA school. She is now a student member of AAPA, and was actively involved in organizations promoting global health and the future of PAs during her undergrad. Follow Erin on Instagram and visit her website at StethoscopeandSparkle.com.