In Focus: Patricio Fuentes
Tell us about your path to Hofstra University.
Growing up in New Jersey, I never thought about pursuing an educational degree far from home. As an immigrant from Ecuador, I was exposed to the U.S. educational system at the age of 10. I attended Hudson Catholic H.S. in Jersey City, NJ with an interest in the science and medical fields. I received my undergraduate degree in Biology from New Jersey City University and decided to follow the physician assistant path for my graduate degree.
How did you decide to become a Physician Assistant?
As a child I was always exposed to medicine and medical professionals. My dad, a pediatrician, inspired me to pursue a career in the medical field. His compassion and desire to help people allowed me to experience firsthand the inherent rewards of a medical career. During my undergraduate years, I was involved in Emergency Medical Services and became a paramedic. Working as a paramedic, I met several PAs who spoke to me about the profession and I knew this was the right career choice for me.
What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hofstra?
As a member of Hofstra University’s chapter of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, I was able to visit graduating seniors of Roosevelt H.S. on Long Island to disseminate information about the profession.
Did you receive any scholarships or assistantships?
I was the recipient of the National Health Service Corp. (NHSC) scholarship. The NHSC provides financial assistance in the form of a scholarship or loan repayment programs to those individuals interested in the medical field to serve those areas that are considered medically underserved.
Tell us about your internship experiences.
Eight core rotations and one elective rotation were scheduled throughout the span of a year. Core rotations were in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, General Surgery, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology. I chose to do my elective rotation in Family Medicine in preparation for future employment. These sites were strategically chosen throughout NY by our clinical coordinator in order to be exposed to different population settings.
Did you encounter any inspiring faculty at Hofstra?
The PA program at Hofstra is designed to be a small, very close group. The students knew each other well and the faculty knew everyone on a first name basis. All faculty members strived to share their knowledge and experience with the students; therefore, I feel that each faculty member strived to inspire each student. The faculty’s ability to be transparent and welcoming makes it difficult to pick one person as a mentor. Each member of the faculty did their best to mentor me but Prof. Ricoy stands out, as she was my advisor throughout my time at Hofstra and always made sure I was headed in the right path.
How did your experience prepare you for your job search?
Academically, Hofstra’s PA program is designed to be rigorous but the quality of educators enhances the experience and I can honestly say that helped me build confidence to excel in my new career. The experience that I gained while on clinical rotations exposed me to all aspects of medicine and provided a well-rounded clinical experience. The preceptors at each clinical site made sure to always challenge me with relevant questions. These experiences also allowed me to network with future employers and at times job offers were gained at these rotation sites.
Tell us about your current employment.
I am currently employed at a community health center in South Bronx, called Urban Health Plan, Inc. As a PA I am responsible for providing primary care services to children, adolescents and adults. I prescribe/administer treatment, therapy, medication and vaccinations. I diagnose and manage acute and chronic medical conditions. I advocate for preventative medicine and manage preventative measures for patients with multiple comorbidities. This job also has the added perk of exposing me to a medically underserved area of the Bronx and fulfills my desire to help the less fortunate by providing quality medical care.
What advice would you give to others considering attending Hofstra?
For anyone interested in Hofstra University, I would say that Hofstra has a lot to offer academically with educators dedicated to preparing each student to be competent and help build confidence to practice their new career. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant and would like to attend an institution with top-notch faculty who care about your success, then Hofstra University is the place to be.