Ashley Poole says she chose her career because her Physician Assistant was so influential when she was a child. Ashley recently joined the office of Scott Pediatrics in Milton.
“I had some medical issues as a child that people did not have the patience to deal with,” Ms. Poole said. “However, we met a Physician Assistant who took time out of her day to make sure everything was explained to me in a way both myself and my mom could understand. While in training to be a physician assistant, we are required to do nine rotations. I chose to return to pediatrics.” The nine rotations include two in family practice, one in internal medicine, one in pediatrics, one in psychiatry and an elective where Ms. Poole could choose which type of medicine where she hoped to practice.
Ms. Poole was born in Vallejo, California, one of nine children. Her parents split when she was very young and both remarried, so she said she never thought of herself as from a split family. She moved to Delmar and graduated from Delmar High School in 2008. Immediately after high school, she attended Wor-Wic Community College, having known she wanted to be a physician’s assistant for some time. Ms. Poole said that attending community college helped her get some of her prerequisites out of the way before she transferred to University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She and her husband have been married for three years, but together for 11 as they were high school sweethearts. They do not have children, but Ms. Poole says she plans to in the future. In fact she says she wants “lots of them.”
“At the time, UMES had a four-year bachelor’s program to become a Physician Assistant,” Ms. Poole said. “I had my eye on it for a while. I did not want to move from the area. My entire family is here, as is my husband’s, and I did not want to uproot our lives for my schooling.” Once at UMES, she was accepted into the pre-professional phase of the physician assistant program. She said she was thrilled that she would be achieving her goal.
Two weeks into the program, everyone in the program was called to a meeting where they were told that the pre-professional program no longer existed as the college had decided to transition into a master’s program. All students were required to select a different major as the first class to be accepted into the master’s program was not until 2014. Ms. Poole chose to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services, graduating in 2013.
“I was the first of my family to graduate college,” Ms. Poole said. “I worked as a Medical Assistant at an urgent care center while continuing to take prerequisites in order to apply to the master’s program. She applied for the second class at UMES that would begin in August 2014. Ms. Poole said that there were over 600 applicants for the program with 32 spots available. However, she was accepted and she felt like everything was falling into place.
In October 2015, students in the program were notified that the physician assistant program at UMES had been placed on probation. Initially, the students were told this would not affect them. Later, Ms. Poole and the other students learned that the probation status meant they would not be able to graduate from the physician assistant program. The class was split with some going to Anne Arundel Community College, some to Towson and four, including Ms. Poole, remaining at UMES. This allowed the four students to continue with their rotations so that they could graduate on time. In December 2016, Ms. Poole graduated and she took the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) in April 2017. She passed the examination to become certified and licensed as a physicians assistant.
“As soon as I walked into Scott Pediatrics for my first rotation, I knew I wanted to work there,” Ms. Poole said. “I grew up in Delmar, love the small town feel and I felt that in this office. The staff is very tightly knit. It’s nice to work for a doctor who knows so much about his patients. That’s the type of provider I want to be. I did two rotations here in the office. The first one was my very first rotation as a student and I wasn’t sure if every rotation was going to give me the same feeling. As I went through my rotations, I thoroughly enjoyed each one. However, I never got that same feeling as I did with Scott Pediatrics. When I came back for my second rotation, it was the same feeling. When I graduated, I was offered four jobs. One was in psychiatry, one was in surgery, one was in family practice and one at Scott Pediatrics. I love working with children, love helping them, so the decision was an easy one.”
Ms. Poole said that although it is great working with a pediatrician that knows his patients so well, it can also be a challenge. She said that Dr. Scott has a strong relationship with his patients and it is the type of relationship she wants to grow with them. The practice currently has over 5,000 patients and Ms. Poole said that Dr. Scott can tell her the entire history of anyone she pulls from the schedule.
“I just hope to develop the same relationship and trust that the patients and parents have with him,” Ms. Poole said. “Of course, I am still learning every day. I am new to the area and new to the practice so there is still a lot to be learned. However, both of things take time and I plan to be here and have the time to overcome those challenges.” Overall, Ms. Poole said she loves everything about her job and could not have found a better fit for her as she builds her career.
Ms. Poole’s advice for those considering a career as a physician assistant is to just “do it.” She said that even with her struggles in the programs at UMES, there is nothing she would change. She said it was probably one of the most complicated things she did, not just because of the rigorous academics but also the roadblocks she encountered, but she met amazing people that she plans to know for the rest of her life.
“People commonly ask me if I wish I had gone to a different school to avoid the entire mess I went through,” Ms. Poole said. “Honestly, I don’t. Some of my classmates from UMES are still some of my closest friends. I truly believe that I value what I have now because of what a mess it was to get here. If your heart is in the medical field, there is a job for you in that field. Physician assistant is an up and coming position in medicine and I am so happy I chose that route for myself.”
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