"Pace provided me an unforgettable opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician assistant"
– Kelsey Ann Vella, Class of 2019

As part of the Physician Assistant-Pleasantville Program’s Class of 2019, Kelsey Ann Vella was proud to serve as Valedictorian at the program’s inaugural graduation ceremony on December 20. As the graduates prepared to say goodbye to each other and their alma mater, Kelsey reflected on her life as a PA grad student, why she chose this career path, and where her journey will lead next. 

On her decision to become a PA, she said, “While working in a hospital, I witnessed a PA leading an entire medical team as they cared for a dying five-year-old in the emergency department. Experiences like that showcased PAs as dedicated, smart, caring individuals who work as a team to provide for their patients. This collaborative approach to medicine drew me to become a PA.”

Sharing some insight into what inspired her and helped her through the tough periods while in the program, Kelsey again focused on patient care.

“The didactic phase of the PA program can be grueling and at times even disheartening. Toward the end of every semester, particularly nearing finals week, stress would be high, and morale would be low, but it was always around this time that I would remember to fight through. I would be inspired by all my future patients who would need my help during their most vulnerable times. I would remember that every part of the PA education was valuable and necessary to work towards being the best PA for those individuals.” 

Of the many tools available to students to ensure they receive the optimal educational experience that they deserve, Kelsey noted access to OSCE simulation suites as being particularly helpful.

“The Program provided students the opportunity to utilize the simulation suites early and frequently throughout our schooling. This unique feature of the program allowed for an easier transition into clinical year. We were given the opportunity to review our standardized-patient interactions which allowed us to critique ourselves and discover how we can be more compassionate, empathetic, and thorough providers before interacting with real patients.”

Crediting Pace for providing an unforgettable opportunity to fulfill her dream of becoming a physician assistant, Kelsey also noted that even in such a rigorous academic setting, Pace felt like her “home away from home.”
So, what’s next for the new alumna? Kelsey has decided to pursue a career as a PA in emergency medicine, partially because of her work as a scribe in an emergency department before enrolling in a PA program.

“I loved the variety and fast-paced nature of the department. I was impressed with the level of autonomy PAs have in the ED and their ability to treat all types of patients regardless of the condition or severity.”

In her Valedictorian address, Kelsey offered this advice to future PA students: “Find time to take care of yourself in between the stress and chaos of PA school. Lean on your fellow classmates and professors for help and support. Remember to eat, sleep and exercise. And call your family often!”

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