Kristin Amicone (MS/PA ’15)
Shifting Gears, Balancing Priorities
Making a career change can be difficult—even more so with a child. This was the situation
that Kristin Amicone (MS/PA ’15) faced a few years ago when she realized she no longer
fully enjoyed her career.
After receiving her bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics from West Chester University
in 2006, Ms. Amicone worked as a dietitian, meeting with patients one-on-one to help
them make more healthful food choices. She continued to move up the ladder career-wise,
managing and eventually directing a bariatric surgery and weight management program
in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While she excelled at her job as an administrator, she
says she missed that patient connection from early in her career.
“The higher I got in administration, the further I got from providing patient care,”
she explains. “I really wanted a position with more interaction with patients.”
She felt that becoming a physician assistant would be the best way for her to get
that interaction, and decided to go back to school for her master’s in physician assistant
studies. But when she started to explore programs, she noticed that many could not
accommodate her unique situation as someone who was a non-traditional student and
a parent. However, she says that was not the case at PCOM.
“The program at PCOM is incredibly rigorous, and attendance is mandatory,” she says.
“But I got the sense that if I needed to take my son to the doctor if he was sick,
it wouldn’t be the end of the world. There was an understanding that school is very
important, but the faculty also took a real interest in me, and allowed for some of
the flexibility needed with having a child.”
Ms. Amicone admits that balancing the demanding curriculum of the program, along with
studying and taking care of her 4-year old son was difficult, but that friends and
family helped ease some of the pressure. “I worked out a system where, if I was with
my son, I wouldn’t have a book open; I didn’t want him to remember his mother not
being focused on him,” she says. “Any time he slept, that’s when I studied, so there
were a lot of late nights.”
Despite it all, Ms. Amicone says she has no regrets about her choice to become a physician
assistant. “Before I started PA school, I shadowed a physician assistant who worked
in my office, and after that first night, I went home and cried,” she says. “I knew
it was exactly what I wanted to do.”