My name is Erica Williams. I am a practicing PA-C in Harrisburg, PA. I currently work in Urgent Care, where I have worked since I graduated from PA school. I see variety of patients of all ages and backgrounds. I have worked along side physicians, other physician assistants, and as the sole provider for our clinics. Urgent Care has been a great experience, as you see a wide variety of diseases, perform procedures, and are always learning something new.
My journey to the PA profession started early in my undergraduate career at the University of Pittsburgh. Going into college, I was not sure what I wanted to study, but I knew I liked helping people and thought I may like medicine. I also love music and thought, at some point, I may combine the two. I started pursuing a Neuroscience major with a Music minor and was on the Pre-Med track. I began volunteering at the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh my sophomore year, where I met a nurse that was able to set up shadowing experiences with physician assistants and nurse practitioners throughout the hospital. During that experience, I was able to learn more about the PA profession and loved the flexibility that this profession gives you. I also saw how much time PAs spend with their patients, and how well patients responded to them. It was at this point I decided to pursue the PA profession. I attended an open house Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (home to Pitt’s PA program) to get more information and, on the same day, discovered the Emergency Medicine major. The EM major is a bachelor’s program that begins your junior year of undergrad and trains you to be a paramedic. I had never heard of a school having an Emergency Medicine bachelor’s degree and was excited to find a hands-on major that I was able to practice medicine and gain clinical experience during undergrad. My experiences in this major and the professors, classmates, and preceptors I met solidified my love for medicine and, to this day, have had the biggest influence leading up to my PA career.
After undergrad, I was fortunate enough to continue my graduate education at Pitt’s PA Program and graduated in 2017. Overall, I had a great experience during my time in Pitt’s PA program. I was the only black person in my class and one of two minority students. I would be lying if I said at times, I did not feel isolated. I have always been passionate about race, diversity and inclusion and plan to continue to do what I can to increase this in our profession and our classrooms. Having seen the distrust in medicine and impact of implicit bias among healthcare workers regarding patients of color and my own family members, I am more determined than ever to improve this by providing a safe space for all patients when I practice and working with the NSBPA to increase the number of minority (especially black) PAs in medicine.