Meet PVA Member, Anita Balaji
Anita Balaji grew up in Pittsford and graduated from Sutherland HS in 2015. She then went to school at RIT to become a Physician’s Assistant (PA). She is currently working as a PA at Strong Memorial Hospital and is an active EMT with Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance.
I first learned about EMS when I attended a carnival almost 10 years ago. I was very fascinated in the prehospital treatment of patients and so I joined an Explorer Post. Through Explorers, my interest continued to grow and I began to work as a Dispatcher. I continued on and became an EMT and have enjoyed the ability to help my community and expand my medical knowledge and critical thinking skills.
I have also recently started my first PA job at Strong Memorial Hospital with their hospital medicine group, having graduated from RIT earlier this year (2020). Our clinical rotations and our graduation were delayed due to the pandemic, but I am very grateful we were able to eventually complete all requirements, graduate, and join our colleagues to further help on the medical front lines.
Life as an EMS Provider
I enjoy the diversity working as an EMT and PA. I love working in EMS because of the spontaneous nature of the job, and I love that I am constantly being challenged to think outside the box. I’m also excited to continue my career as a PA. I love learning more about patients' disease pathology and being able to grow relationships with my patients during their hospital stay. I believe my pre-hospital training has helped better prepare me as an inpatient provider by being able to work in high pressure settings with limited time. While you learn a ton in school and through clinical rotations, I am still constantly learning new things every day.
Prior to the pandemic, I was finishing up clinical rotations at the hospital. It's incredible how things have changed in such a short time at the hospital. Trying to adjust to wearing all the PPE and adjusting to using equipment and performing interventions has been a learning curve. Working in the field during the pandemic has also become more challenging, as we are trying to maintain social distancing while still attending to patient needs; sometimes circumstances on the job make that difficult.
As I work with COVID patients in the hospital, I worry about becoming ill and spreading to family and friends. Many of the COVID patients I've personally encountered have been minorities. I'm concerned about the healthcare discrepancy we face and the need to improve upon that.
I think COVID has really brought to light how effective handwashing and masks are in reducing disease transmission. I think going forward it is important that when this pandemic hopefully blows over, that we should continue hygiene measures as it can help decrease spread of infection.
On a personal level, COVID has really given me more time to slow down in life and appreciate the now. And I’d like to add – I'm very grateful to have such amazing colleagues to work with through this pandemic!