From the time she was a little girl growing up in Portage, Pa., Karly Link '14 was always interested in medicine. She expected to grow up to be a doctor or a pharmacist, but after talking with a physician assistant when she was 16 she decided to take a different path.
“Instantly I knew that this job would be perfect for me,” Karly said. “I would get to treat patients, write prescriptions, perform procedures, etc., and the five-year program made it very appealing.”
Once Karly fell in love with the idea of becoming a PA, she just needed to find a school with a reputable program.
“SFU has such a great reputation for its PA program, and it does an excellent job at preparing you for what’s to come as a practicing PA,” Karly said. “The teachers are wonderful and really will go above and beyond to help you succeed.”
Karly Link graduated with her master’s degree in PA science in 2014 and was immediately hired in the Trauma and Emergency General Surgery unit at UPMC Altoona, where she had completed her elective rotation as a graduate student. Her new position was made even better when her old friend Tyler Haney also joined the team.
“Tyler and I grew up in the same town. We’ve known each other since preschool, so it was great having someone to go through college with,” Karly said. “We really helped each other through PA school and boards.”
Although the two did not complete any of their rotations together, they were assigned to the same emergency room and surgery rotations, allowing them to provide each other with much-needed support and advice during their final year in PA school.
“The long hours in didactic year made it all worth it on rotations. One great thing is that the SFU program allows you to pick your rotations and the clinical coordinators do their best to make sure you get exactly what you want. I was able to gain a lot of experience and comfort during rotations. This made it much easier to transition into the role of a practicing PA.”
More than two years after graduation, Karly still loves what she does. She still gets an adrenaline rush every time she gets called to a new trauma, and is constantly utilizing the skills she learned as a student.
“If you are truly passionate about medicine and want a career that allows you to pursue any specialty, at any time, PA is right for you. You can start out doing family practice, and if you decide you want to move to emergency medicine, you can. The possibilities are endless and no other career will allow you to do that,” Karly said. “You get to practice closely with physicians all while having autonomy and making your own clinical decisions. It’s the best of both worlds. You get a great career and have time to build a personal life.”
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