Shawn McCoy, PA22
New England—and with my family.
The one adjective that best describes you is...
Adaptable. I can work with a lot of different people in different settings. I can step up when I’m needed, but I can also go off and be focused on my own tasks. I can be more vocal when that’s useful, less vocal when it’s not. My goal is always to do what it takes to work with others and get things done.
Why was the School of Medicine the right place for you?
I used to work as an EMT, and often we would take patients to Tufts, and it was always a smooth experience. So, when I was considering physician assistant (PA) programs and I saw that Tufts offers one, it felt natural for me to apply. As it happens, I was on campus for only eight weeks before the program went online because of the pandemic. It was a great eight weeks, though. We had terrific access to the cadaver lab, which is something a lot of other PA programs don’t offer. The whole experience felt very focused, and I appreciated the solid efforts that went into making it feel professional. Even after it went online, it all ran efficiently.
What’s one thing you’ve learned that you’ll draw upon as a physician assistant?
The importance of not panicking when things go wrong. That lesson was driven home when the program went online. No one expected it to be online. But you have to be able to handle what comes to you, and that applies to medicine in general.
What’s your best advice for aspiring PAs?
Take your time and make sure you gain experience before becoming a PA. Working as an EMT helped me feel comfortable in my rotations and with patients. As a result, it wasn’t daunting for me to do physical exams or work with patients. That extensive previous experience really helped me understand exactly what I wanted in a PA program and beyond. You don’t have to be an EMT—I know classmates who had great experiences as ER techs or medical assistants. But make sure you do something. Have experience under your belt so that you know what you’re getting into and you’re more prepared as a student.