Embracing Change: My Journey to Changing Career Goals
By: Jessica Martin, SDSU Chapter Member
From the moment I officially became a San Diego State Aztec, I felt married to my major and the career that came with it. I felt married to it despite the fact that I chose to be a Kinesiology Major with an emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy on a whim. I liked running. I liked anatomy. Physical Therapy? Sure, why not.
I have always valued order and plans. I write everything down for the week religiously in a planner, but my plans exceed the average week. I plan big picture, looking towards the future and I expect myself to see these plans to completion. As a freshman in college, I already knew my top grad school and deviation was not an option. So, I put my head down and started to work .
As I progressed through college, I found that I enjoyed my classes. I liked learning about the body and how it worked, I fell in love with anatomy. But there was always a little nagging feeling about physical therapy. For most of my first two years, I attributed this to lack of experience in the field. However, this excuse quickly became obsolete as I started gaining shadowing hours for grad school.
At the end of my sophomore year and throughout Fall semester my junior year, I completed 150 hours of shadowing between an outpatient clinic and a hospital. I didn’t find any passion or sparkle that I thought I would find, nothing clicked into place the way I had hoped it would. I was utterly lost. I knew deep down that this was not for me. This life that I envisioned for myself was not going to make me happy. But I continued on. I asked two physical therapists for letters of recommendation, and just like that my grad school pre-reqs were complete. It was the final block in a poorly built wall.
That poorly built wall came tumbling down when I walked into physiology lecture on a December day. It was one of the last lectures of the semester and we were covering reproductive physiology and the hormone cycle that results in menstruation. I had been on the edge of my seat all unit and spent my free time looking up questions that I had that had not been covered in class. And then my professor jokingly said, “You know, if you like this stuff, there’s a job for you. You could work in women’s health”. I didn’t hear another word of that lecture, my mind started racing. Something had finally clicked.
I went home and I cried. I cried because I was scared, I had put 3 years into physical therapy. I had done all my research and I had all of my pre-reqs lined up like ducklings for physical therapy. And this click, this missing puzzle piece that I just found meant that I was back to square one. I was so scared that I seriously considered ignoring it and pushing forward in a career that I did not want. But ultimately, I gave in to my passion.
I settled on pursuing a career as a physician assistant specializing in women’s health. I felt that it was a happy medium, not as long or intense as medical school but still put me in a position to empower women through proper healthcare and contraception. In making my decision, I sentenced myself to another semester of undergrad, as I have to go back and take extra prerequisites that I wouldn’t have had to take had I chosen to stick with physical therapy. I also have to obtain a thousand new clinical hours, this time with hands on experience and a certification as a medical assistant. My life, in many ways, has gotten exponentially harder and more uncertain. However, the one thing that I am certain of is that I am finally travelling down the right path for me.
I know that this is a long-winded story, but if you made it through to the end, here is what I want you to know: it is never too late to change your path. There are never too many obstacles between you and what you want to do. The most important thing that you can do for yourself is to embrace the uncertainty and follow that inner voice, don’t suppress it. No plan is set in stone, you are never in too deep, and sometimes change is the only answer.