Kristin Amicone (MS/PA ’15)
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.”