AJ Chen '21 | PA | Wake Forest

Pursuing a MMS to become a Physician Assistant (PA)
Wake Forest School of Meidcine PA Program, entering class of 2023

Undergraduate Concentration: Neuroscience

Significant college activities: Varsity Men's Volleyball; Peña Lab; Camp Kesem Princeton; HPA Peer Advisor; MAVRIC Project; Princeternship at Swedish Neuroscience Institute; Forbes College Council; Cannon Club

Post-college activities: Obtained NREMT license; Medical Assistant at Princeton Brain, Spine and Sports Medicine; Patient Care Technician at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital; 16U Head Coach at Princeton Volleyball Club

Words of wisdom about being prehealth at Princeton: 

Like many other incoming students interested in health and medicine, I began my Princeton journey as a pre-med student. However, as I moved through my pre-med courses, there was always the looming question in the back of my mind: was I pre-med because I wanted to become a doctor or because it was the only health track I knew of?

During my junior year, I participated in a Princeternship shadowing a neurosurgeon as he performed rounds, office visits, and surgeries. I also met a physician assistant on his team, who performed rounds and office visits, and was first-assist in the OR. After this experience, I met with HPA and researched online to learn more about this career. I discovered that both the journey towards becoming a PA and the career itself better aligned with my strengths as a person and my future goals. 

In my glide year, I'm working as a medical assistant for a neurosurgery practice and as a patient care technician for a community hospital. These experiences have helped me build a solid foundation in my clinical skills and knowledge and my ability to communicate with patients and other health providers as I head into my two-year program next spring. Furthermore, I have been exposed to many facets of healthcare that have broadened my understanding of what medicine actually entails. 

My advice to students would be to take the time to explore and consider different healthcare professions by shadowing and seeing different healthcare environments in person. I have learned about and grown to admire so many of the other providers I work with including my nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, secretaries, social workers, dieticians, pastoral care staff, and more. My glide year experiences not only confirmed my desire to pursue this career but also provided a well-needed break from the classroom. I'm now feeling rejuvenated and excited to return to school. Entering the healthcare field is a big investment, so take the time to find out what's best for you! 

I would love to talk more about my journey as a pre-PA student or about glide year activities! Please feel free to reach me at [email protected]