Closing the Gap Between Medical Professionals and Spanish-speaking Individuals - Jessica Gomez

I am playing a game of checkers when the sunken eyes of my normally vibrant brother meet mine. As I watch his skin become pale and little beads of sweat develop on his brow, my stomach tightens with the sinking feeling that something is very wrong. My brother is experiencing his first hypoglycemic episode, and I know I have to help him, fast. At a young age, I did not yet know how to care for my brother with juvenile diabetes, and that feeling of uncertainty and helplessness is not one I want to revisit often. Fortunately, my parents knew what to do, but to this day, it haunts me to think that if the medical community had not educated my family, the outcome could have been much more grave. Experiences like this influenced me greatly and served as a catalyst for my pursuit of a career as a physician assistant (PA).

"Fortunately, my parents knew what to do, but to this day, it haunts me to think that if the medical community had not educated my family, the outcome could have been much more grave"

Growing up with a brother affected with an autoimmune disease was difficult for me; I did all I could to assist with the care needed for a diabetic child, such as choosing low-sugar food options and learning how to inject insulin. I observed that the endless number of appointments with physicians often overwhelmed my parents, and that their lives were made more difficult by their inability to understand the complex, technical vocabulary. Before my brother received his diabetes diagnosis, he was misdiagnosed with a stomach virus. My mother was new to the country, and her broken English made it difficult to communicate with physicians. As a future PA, I plan to close the gap between medical professionals and Spanish-speaking individuals to ensure misdiagnoses like these do not occur due to a language barrier.

"As a future PA, I plan to close the gap between medical professionals and Spanish-speaking individuals to ensure misdiagnoses like these do not occur due to a language barrier".

As the daughter of Mexican Immigrants, I have faced several unique challenges. For example, as a child, I was my parent’s linguistic and cultural mediator. This increased responsibility helped me enhance my interpersonal skills and understand the fulfillment one attains from helping others. Additionally, as a medical scribe, I helped several Latino patients overcome language and cultural barriers by interpreting for them during hospital visits. Therefore, my bilingual fluency and cultural awareness will allow me to deliver patient-centered care as a PA. Being a first-generation college student is an honor and privilege that my parents did not have. Through this experience, I could not turn to my parents for advice with college applications, scholarships, or help to select a major. So, I struggled academically during my first year of undergrad education, but I overcame this by utilizing the resources offered at CSU Stanislaus, which helped me build effective study strategies to excel in rigorous science courses. I remember struggling and confiding in a college professor who told me “Maybe, you should change you major”; I’m so happy I didn’t listen to their advice because if I did I wouldn’t have fulfilled my dreams of becoming a Physician Assistant. Because of this experience, I decided to help other students by becoming a human anatomy teaching assistant and supplemental instructional leader. Through, this I was able to provide a support system and help students stay on track in Human Anatomy.

"I remember struggling and confiding in a college professor who told me “Maybe, you should change you major”; I’m so happy I didn’t listen to their advice because if I did I wouldn’t have fulfilled my dreams of becoming a Physician Assistant".

Upon completing the PA Program at University of California, Davis I intend to work in a medically underserved area, with a focus on serving the Spanish-speaking population that has traditionally been overlooked. I am considering working in both family medicine and emergency medicine in a region with a large community of immigrants so that I can provide immediate care to those in need, as well as providing continuing care to families. I am dedicated to the pursuit of a career as a physician assistant and fully confident in my abilities.