Jadyn Anderson is one of the busiest students on Union’s campus. The junior from South Dakota balances her studies with working as a physical therapy technician, founding and leading the pre-PA club, and organizing service opportunities as a Campus Ministries volunteer coordinator. “I’m a very driven person,” she said. “I like getting things done.”
High on the to-do list is finishing her master’s degree a year early. In just three years more years, Anderson will have finished both a bachelor’s and a master’s.
Anderson is a student in Union’s biomedical science program, working on the advanced pre-PA emphasis. This program allows students to combine a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science with a master’s of physician assistant studies in only six years. In comparison, most PAs spend seven years or more in training.
“When I graduate from the PA Program, I’ll have spent three years as an undergrad and three years in graduate school,” said Anderson, who will receive her bachelor’s degree after the first year in the PA Program.
“Growing up, I was always interested in medicine,” she said. “I even thought about becoming a doctor, but there were a lot of drawbacks for me. As I was evaluating what I liked and disliked about being a doctor, someone asked if I’d considered becoming a PA, and I thought ‘Whoa! This has everything I’m looking for.’”
Physician assistants work closely with patients in almost all medical specialties, including emergency medicine, family practice, sports medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics, to name a few. Unlike doctors, they do not have to take extra training to specialize in a field. Anderson chose the PA profession for its flexibility, as well as its freedom to interact with patients. “I love how closely PAs work with patients and get to have more time to interact with them. I also like the versatility of being a physician assistant. I can start in family practice, go to emergency medicine and then end up in sports medicine. I can let life happen as it happens and my career can change with me.”
“We have some incredibly brilliant students who choose to come to Union, and we want to give them the opportunity to decrease the amount of time they have in school, as well as give them a fast track into our PA program,” said Dr. Christina Burden-Page, director of the biomedical science program. In 2021, Union College PA graduates had a 97 percent first-time PANCE pass rate. Each year, Union accepts only 30 students to the PA Program. These small class sizes allow professors and students to create the meaningful connections for which Union College is known. Union undergraduate students who apply to the PA program receive preferred status and an inside track into the program.
“When I started college, I was planning to pursue physical therapy,” shared Anderson. “The thing that changed me to want to do PA was a biology class. My professor would do case studies, and I just loved the problem solving and analyzing aspect. That’s what convinced me I really wanted to practice medicine. I continue to love Dr. Christina Burden-Page’s classes. They’re super insightful. We learn so much that when you leave the classroom, you feel like you’re one step closer to your dream.”
By Annika Cambigue, sophomore communication major