BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The drive-thru graduations seen across the state have become a symbol of courage as these newcomers to medicine block out the coronavirus noise.
Recent graduates of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge are diving into a medical field that looks rather different from when they started school. These recent grads say nerves didn’t hold them back.
“If I can go where help is needed, then that’s something I’m going to try to do while I’m young, healthy, and able,” said Blake Whitmarsh.
Whitmarsh completed his studies at FranU, earning a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.
“If I can help change someone’s life for the better, whether that be medically or emotionally, I’ll do what I can,” said Whitmarsh.
Whitmarsh is following the call to help as a physician assistant, or PA, more than 1,000 miles away in New York. His family says he can always find something closer to home in Florida, but he’s following the need.
“You say New York and the first thing they think is the epicenter of all this going on," he said.
In July, Whitmarsh will begin practicing as a PA at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York.
There’s no doubt New York has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19 in the United States, but like recent graduate, Lauren Lee, becoming a health professional turned into a calling.
“The more time we spent learning, the more time I spent in clinical, the more time spent in the hospital, it really grew on me after that,” Lee said. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in April.
Emily Winter has a few more years until she’s in the field. She just graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, but she’s looking at a future as a PA as well.
“We have the ability to change the world,” Winter said.
In just a few years, Winter will have the credentials to save lives, but it seems like she’s already on the way to understanding how to deliver the best care.
“I want to do more than just treat their condition. I want to help love them as a person. I want them to feel that," she said.
Winter hopes to stay in Louisiana to continue her medical education.
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