Medicine takes flight for Elon PA graduate
2nd Lt. Jamie Seals, whose education was funded by the U.S. Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program, reports for commissioned officer training in May as she begins her healthcare career by serving her country.
The youngest member of Elon University’s charter class of physician assistants is about to hit the skies.
Jamie Seals graduated Sunday with a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, a degree fully funded by her participation in the highly selective U.S. Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program.
Seals was one of 32 people to receive the prestigious scholarship when the Air Force awarded the honor three years ago. She has since been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserves and begins commissioned officer training this summer for an organization whose values dovetail with her own.
Loyalty. Discipline. Integrity. Commitment.
“Not only am I going to get the experience, it will be like living in a family,” said Seals, who will be assigned to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota following basic training. “It motivates you to take on responsibilities and challenges you don’t see every day.”
Seals learned this spring from one of the nation’s best physician assistants mentors during a clinical rotation at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Joseph Cohen, her preceptor at the medical center, won the Preceptor of the Year Award in 2013 from the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
As the oldest of four siblings, Seals spent her childhood in Missouri before her parents moved everyone to Alamance County in North Carolina. She was homeschooled until enrolling at Alamance Community College and, later, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a degree in biology by the age of 21.
Seals initially wanted to study nursing. She shifted her goals to working as a physician assistant after volunteering with a medical mission trip prior to college. “You encourage people who are sick,” Seals explained of her passion. “You encounter vulnerability and you get to be the one to step in and offer comfort.”
A desire to help people in need is what led Seals to the profession. Improving their lives is what gives her joy.
“I like having the knowledge to answer questions and steer patients on a path to becoming healthy,” she said.
Faculty members in the Physician Assistant Studies program praise Seals for her positive outlook and strong work ethic, which they said will serve her well in the medical profession. From the time Seals enrolled at Elon, her focus has been on learning as much as she can, said program director and Professor Patti Ragan.
Seals has been proactive in taking every opportunity to learn, whether in the classroom or clinic, Ragan said. Patients have readily accepted her counsel and comfort.
“We are so proud that Jamie was a part of our charter PA class here at Elon,” Ragan said. “She came in knowing exactly what she wanted in her career as a physician assistant and felt that being an Air Force officer would be an excellent way to help her provide primary care and serve her country.
“She has great leadership potential and we look forward to seeing what her future brings.”