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PA STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS

Dana Filias, PAS II
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Manchester by-the-Sea, MA

Undergraduate studies:
Wake Forest University - B.S. Mathematical Economics .

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
OB/GYN Club; AMWA, AAPA, and CAPA.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
When I came across RVU I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from a brand new program, but it was a leap of faith that was worth taking. I got such a good feeling from the faculty and other students during my interview, and I have felt that same sense of community throughout my time here as well. RVU fosters a small, student-focused environment that allows you to build close relationships with classmates and professors alike.
Pursuing a career as a PA was always an easy choice for me. I have always been drawn to medicine, but I knew that the role of physician wasn't a perfect fit for me. I craved a role that would allow me the scope of practice to be able to manage patient's autonomously, but that would also provide more of a team-centric, collaborative approach to patient care. Being a PA will also afford me the ability to move around in my career and to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests, and hobbies)?
Much of my free time is spent exploring all of the hiking, scenic views, and craft beer that Colorado has to offer. I love catching a few rays of sunshine wherever possible, but when the weather keeps me indoors, you can find me in a spin class, cooking some variation of tacos, listening to podcasts, and diving into a good DIY project.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I have never broken a bone!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
"Don't try to control the things that you cannot control." There are so many things in PA school and in life in general that will be beyond your control. It is a waste of time and energy to stress about these uncontrollable factors, and it won't make you feel any better. Instead, focus your energy on the things that you can control. If you did poorly on a test, don't argue it. Instead, rethink your study habits.

What are your medical interests?
I like little bits of everything that I have sampled while out on clinical rotations, but I would have to say that I am most drawn towards acute care and hospital medicine.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in RVU?
Some of my classmates and I made it a tradition to get brunch after every exam during didactic year. We would post-up at Snooze with stacks of pancakes and coffee and sit there chatting for hours on end. It was so much fun to have a few moments to decompress and recharge after a week or two of intense studying, and I will cherish all of those Friday hang-outs.  

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Think about where you are at right now. Think about how badly you want to go to PA school. Now, file that away in your brain for when times get tough. PA school is not easy, and the journey is not smooth. You might fall behind in sleep. You might have to miss out on a friends wedding, or a Holiday spent with your family. You might find the rigorous schedule to be frustrating and inconvenient. Whatever happens, however, you just have to continue to remind yourself why you are doing this and how grateful you are to be here, actively pursuing your dream.



Luke Paik, PAS II
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Campus Location
Colorado Campus

Hometown:
Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate studies:
Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a Concentration in Anatomy and Physiology and a double minor in Biotechnology and Psychology.

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I am a tutor for the first year PA class and a member of the Medical Spanish Interest Group.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Los Angeles, California. I attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo for my undergraduate degree. After college, I moved to San Diego, CA where I worked in pre-clinical research and was a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Restorative Nursing Assistant for several years.

What initially brought you to RVU? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I have always had a strong interest in medicine and science. After completing my bachelor's degree and working in research, I found that I enjoyed the science aspect of research but wanted to explore a field with patient care. I felt that PA school at RVU was the right fit for me because I wanted to be in a profession where I would be working in a collaborative environment, yet have the autonomy to diagnose conditions, treat patients, and prescribe medication. My experience during my interview at Rocky Vista University left me with the unshakable feeling that RVU was where I belonged and where I would thrive.

What do you enjoy doing when not at RVU (family life, interests, and hobbies)?
I love cooking, running trails, going to the gym, and watching suspenseful/weird movies.

What is an interesting or little known fact about you:
I did a half-Ironman in college.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at RVU?
It is okay to be wrong and to make mistakes, so long as you learn and grow from your experience.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Don't ever give up on your dreams! Be genuine and true to yourself and you will succeed in your career and life!



Stephanie Bradford, PA

Hometown:
Broomfield, CO

Undergraduate studies:
Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
I currently serve as Class Representative for the PA 2021 class. I’m also a member of AMWA and I’m a tutor for the first year PA students.

Why did you choose RVU PA?
I chose RVU because the program fosters a supportive environment where every person you interact with is invested in your success. I felt welcome from the moment I arrived on interview day. The competency-based curriculum also drew me in because it evaluates learning and progress in a more holistic way.

What do you like most about RVU PA?
I love the bonds we have formed as a class. It feels like a family in the way that we all support each other. I also like that we can be involved in activities that connect with students outside of the PA program.

What are your medical interests?
I change my mind often as I get exposure to different fields, but currently I’m enjoying pediatrics and women’s health. Thankfully, as a PA, I can change specialties throughout my career.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
I’ve always been proud to call Colorado home. From the mountains to the cities, there’s always something to do or a new place to explore. The weather makes outside activities possible year round, and you never have to go more than a few days without seeing the sun.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love traveling, reading, baking, photography, and spending time with my family and friends.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Schedule time for yourself in your busy week to relax, do something you love, or call a friend. Even 30 minutes can make a huge difference in your attitude.



Natalie Crump, PA

Hometown:
Denver, CO

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Psychology with a Chemistry minor- University of Colorado Denver

Graduate studies, if applicable:
Master of Science in Medical Sciences- University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
RVU MC^2 Mentor, CMDA, SNMA Club, and Student Delegate for the AAPA Student Academy House of Delegates

Why did you choose PA?
Being a PA represented the collaboration, competence, and compassion I desired in my own personal pursuit of providing care for others. Understanding the history of the PA profession and seeing first-hand the impact of PAs in extending care to underserved populations drove my decision to become a PA. The competency-based curriculum and PA faculty at RVU is what drew me to this program.

What do you like most about PA?
I love that PAs have an opportunity to work within a healthcare team while maintaining autonomy as an independent clinician. As a PA I will enjoy the flexibility of lateral mobility within the profession and a better work life balance. Even though I'm still in training, I love the versatility afforded to PAs and the time spent providing patient education. Watching PA preceptors engage in shared decision making with the patient and members of the healthcare team has been amazing. I look forward to one day doing the same.

What are your medical interests?
Women's health, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Oncology, and Pediatrics.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
As a native, I enjoy Colorado's 4 seasons and the chance to get outdoors. I also frequent new restaurants and food trucks in the Denver area quite often although Covid restrictions has slowed this down a bit.

What are your plans after PA?
After PA school I plan on sitting for the PANCE and either applying for jobs as a new grad or applying for a one-year Advance Practice Fellowship.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
Breathe! Didactic year will be challenging, but if you're organized, manage your time well, and do little each day you will survive. As much as you can, try to review the lectures that were given the same day. I did this more toward the end of the year and wished I had done so from the beginning. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and your journey to PA-C is no different. Enjoy the ride!

What is your favorite class currently and why?
I loved Skills and Assessment! This is the course where you learn all of the physical exam and diagnostic skills you will use daily to diagnose illnesses and disease. Of all of the courses during didactic year, this one made my journey toward PA-C feel the most tangible. Practicing with my classmates and seeing standardized patients created some of the best memories.



Michelle Kahle, PA

Hometown:
Berthoud, CO

Undergraduate studies:
BS in Microbiology (Colorado State University)

Graduate studies, if applicable:
MS in Microbiology-Immunology (Colorado State University)

What clubs and activities are you currently invoved with?
PA 2021 Class Council Historian and I am also a tutor for the PA class of 2022.

Why did you choose PA?
I would be happy doing a lot of different things in life, but there is nothing I am more passionate about than medicine. I was really driven to the teamwork that it takes to provide compassionate care for others and the PA profession gives me just that. The ability to have flexibility in my career was also a major component in my decision. What do you like most about RVU PA? The curriculum was what initially drew me to RVU. I absolutely loved the idea of a competency-based medical program that is patient-focused and allows the learner to truly grow and excel as an individual. I believe this fosters a more collaborative learning environment. The faculty are also incredible here and are driven to help us succeed.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
As a Colorado native, I could not imagine living anywhere else. I love waking up for early morning sunrise hikes and then watching the sunset over the mountains while enjoying a beer at one of the many local breweries. Parker is such an outdoor friendly area with quick access to walking/biking trails. There are also a lot of great dog parks nearby for your furry friends too!

What are your plans after PA?
I hope to practice in family medicine for a number of years, then eventually apply to work a season down in Antarctica through the Center for Polar Medical Operations. After gaining enough experience in practice, my goal is to also teach physician assistant education part time.

What do you do in your spare time?
Anything outdoors really. I love spending time on the river fly fishing, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and spending time with my dog. When not busy with school, I also really enjoy hanging out in my dad's shop building furniture.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
You deserve to be here! Everyone goes through periods of self-doubt, but remember you were picked for a reason and you are more than capable of success. I am a big fan of the preview, learn, review method for learning, so try to set yourself up for success early by getting in a routine and sticking to it.

Fun facts about you.
I hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in 2018 for my first trip outside of the United States.



Maria Hipp, PA

Hometown: Darby, Montana
Undergraduate studies:
BS - Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Wyoming

Graduate studies, if applicable:
MS – Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
AAPA student member currently; RVU AAPA student chapter president 2018-2019
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Back Country Horsemen Chapter Member

Why did you choose PA?
I chose PA because I realized after 6 years of post-secondary education that I wanted to be in medicine. When I started looking at going back to school, I saw that PA programs really valued previous health care experience in choosing future health care providers. Also, PA school is very intense and requires a certain personality type and grit to be successful. My background as a clinical exercise physiologist really prepared me to take the next steps of pursuing a career as a PA.

What do you like most PA?
As a PA I will not only have autonomy as a health care provider but will have the ability to discuss difficult cases with my supervising physician. This unique characteristic of PA gives me confidence in knowing I will always be able to provide patients with the best care and advice.

What are your plans after PA school?
I am currently applying to primary care PA jobs in rural communities in Montana. I grew up in a rural town in Montana and really value the importance of community. There were several people in my hometown who helped elevate me in several ways to achieve my educational goals. I want to be a part of a community where I can give back as a health care provider, help patience focus on personal health goals, and improve their quality of life. Really embrace what it means to give back and pay it forward.

What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to be outside biking, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing. I have a 9-year-old border collie that loves to accompany me on my outdoor adventures. I try to balance study and clinic time with at least 30-60 minutes of outdoor time each day for my mental and physical health.

What advice do you have for first-year students?
My advice to first-year PA students is to not be afraid to talk about how difficult didactic year is. You are not alone in your struggle to balance school and daily life. In my experience, PA school and life was easier to balance once clinical rotations started, so keep moving onward and look forward to some relief very soon.



Stephen Fike, PA

Hometown: Lawton, Oklahoma

Undergraduate studies: Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry and Associates in Radiologic Technology

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with?
During didactic I was involved with CMDA.

Why did you choose PA?
I chose PA due to the shorter school length. This will allow me to be in a position to serve others faster.

What do you like most about PA?
The flexibility to change modality in the medical field. I also like the aspect of working alongside doctors to better improve the health of the community.

What are your medical interests?
Emergency medicine and Orthopedics.

What do you appreciate most about Colorado and the local area?
The scenery and the vast amount of outdoor activities to explore.

What are your plans after PA?
Work full time and continue to volunteer in my community.

What do you do in your spare time?
Exercising, playing video games, and spending time with my family. Being a veteran, I also enjoy volunteering at Fort Carson with the Navigator's discipling young solders to follow Christ.



Adrianna Bryant, PA
RVU-CO

Class: PAS II, inaugural cohort, graduating November 2020

Hometown: Craig, Colorado

Undergraduate studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Biological Anthropology from the University of Colorado

Graduate studies: Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from Indiana University

What clubs and activities are you currently involved with? Last year, I was the State Chapter Student Representative for our student chapter of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. I am also involved with our program's PALS program, which connects students from the first and second cohorts to offer guidance and friendship.

Are you glad you chose RVU’s PA Program and why? Yes! I love being a part of a new program that values compassionate, competent care. It feels like RVU has a culture of respect and care toward students. Our faculty are approachable and open to dialoguing with us in effort to constantly improve. RVU staff also exude positivity and kindness toward students, whether security guards, library staff, or program staff. That makes a difference for us on busy, stressful days! As PA students, we basically spent our first year on campus all day, at least 5 days per week. Compared to lots of schools, the campus is a very convenient and comfortable place to essentially live, with easy parking, good study space, kitchen space, healthy snacks available, and a ping pong room for de-stressing (which my class used a TON!). The learning facilities, including the classrooms and cadaver lab, are excellent.

What do you like most about RVU’s PA Program? I love being a part of a small cohort of interesting people from a variety of backgrounds but with very similar goals. PA school is very challenging, and this program is no different. Having a fantastic class to go through it with makes a huge difference. Also, our faculty truly care about students, and they do an excellent job of developing relationships with us. They recognize that we are real people with complex lives, and they work with us to help us become the best new PAs we can be, while allowing us to deal with life stressors that come up.

What are your plans after the PA Program? I grew up in a small town in Northwestern Colorado, and I'm in love with the American West. I am hoping to work either in the Denver area, near where I grew up, or in Southern Colorado. I am most passionate about women's health, but I also enjoy primary care. I haven't yet found a specialty I haven't enjoyed.

What do you do in your spare time? I'm currently expecting my first baby, so I spend a lot of time getting ready for that new challenge! But I also make time for exercise, cooking, and the occasional weekend camping and hiking trip.

What advice do you have for first-year PA students? PA school is fast and furious, and you definitely have to be all-in from the start. That said, it is crucial to continue healthy habits to take care of yourself to keep performing your best. You might end up sleeping and exercising a little bit less than usual in the first year, but don't get too carried away! Try to see your friends and family when you can! Taking care of myself helps me maintain perspective while juggling a lot of hard work. I try to keep in mind that my goal is to be the best PA possible for my future patients. My education should center around that rather than fussing over every little exam question or assignment.

Fun facts about you: I was an exchange student to the Canary Islands in high school where I gained fluency in Spanish. I've worked as an interpreter in the past, and I love using this skill to connect with monolingual Spanish-speakers. I love doing canoe and raft trips during the summer, and I hope to get back to that after PA school. Also, I am growing a tiny human! I originally planned to start my family around the time of graduation, once rotations were over, but the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with that timeline a bit. There's no stopping this train now, so I'm gearing up to take it all on!



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For faster response, please direct inquiries to the PA Program:
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