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BW grad pursues satisfying health care career as surgical physician assistant

Since Baldwin Wallace University launched its physician assistant (PA) graduate program, some 200 graduates have filled the need for health care providers in all types of specialties. Alaina Gent '21 found her niche in general surgery.

Alaina Gent

Alaina Gent '21 serves as a general surgery physician assistant (PA) with the Summa Health System in Barberton, Ohio, which she describes as "exciting" work. "I have been working for over a year now and enjoy the variety in general surgery very much," Gent says about her PA path.

"I have a great team of providers that I am lucky to work with, and together we see patients in the inpatient, outpatient and operating room settings. I am honored to be able to care for patients each day."

Superior exam preparation

Gent says her BW education prepared her "very well" for the role.

"I had no trouble passing boards and felt prepared for my career," she recalls. "The knowledge base I had upon graduating was great and is why my transition into practice has been successful."

In fact, since 2015, graduates of BW's physician assistant program have achieved a 99% cumulative first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

World-renown clinicals, early advantage

Gent identifies BW's "fabulous professors" as the number one advantage of the program - "[t]heir kindness and dedication to students shines through" - but she also notes that the 24-month program, which begins and ends in May each year, launches graduates into the job market ahead of most others.

"May was the perfect time [to graduate], and I had a job by mid-summer," she says. "I also loved the clinical options at BW. I was able to rotate at world-renowned systems while being close to family."

Choosing the PA career path

Alaina Gent

Before pursuing her Master of Medical Science (MMS) degree at BW, Gent earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Akron as a decorated honors student. She started at BW the day after her graduation.

"PA school is a great choice regardless of your undergrad or professional background. I have a bachelor's degree in exercise science pre-PT," she explains. "I am thankful for my great education that allows me to impact many each day as I continue to work as a PA."

When asked to give advice to first-year students at her undergraduate alma mater, Gent suggested they explore "unfamiliar territory."

"If you hit a dead end in the road, make a new trail. It is easy to do what is comfortable, but the real opportunities of life await once you leave your bubble."

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