Name: Amy Parkinson
Undergrad: BS in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul
I am a second year medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School on the Twin Cities Campus. I am staying involved in the field of geriatrics and connected with older adults through programs like Partners in Dementia and the MN Northstar Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program
How did ACR help reach my goals?
I worked at Arthur’s Senior Care for over 6 years. I started at Arthurs-Alta Vista, as a freshman during my undergrad, hoping to get some direct care experience. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but I knew there were many potential avenues to achieve my goals. As a care attendant at Arthur’s, I had the opportunity to observe and interact with nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, hospice teams, physicians, families, and most importantly, individuals living with dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other various conditions. Many experiences at Arthur’s helped me come to the conclusion that I wanted to pursue a career as a physician.
After graduating from Northwestern, I began working full-time at Alta Vista while applying to medical school. In 2017, I found out I was waitlisted at the U of M Medical School. Although I was not accepted on my first attempt, I still knew that I wanted to be a physician. In addition to volunteering and researching, I continued working full-time and hoped to take on more responsibility. I had the opportunity to work as the Housing Manager Assistant at Alta Vista while the Housing Manager was on maternity leave and then continued in this role at both Alta Vista and Emmert.
In May of 2018, I began training to become the Housing Manager
at Arthur’s on Emmert and finished my training in July. The opportunity to serve as Housing Manager was an experience that I will never forget. I am confident that my experiences as Housing Manager and care attendant, including over 7,000 hours of direct care, observation of various professionals and personal and professional development, helped me achieve my goals of being accepted into medical school and pursuing a career as a physician.
I may be biased, but I would strongly advocate pre-med students to take a gap year
. For me, being a Housing Manager (RS) was a rewarding and challenging experience, but I would not trade it for anything. The free housing and life skills I gained were a bonus too (I am great at clearing driveways and landscaping now!). Others thrive going straight from undergrad to medical school (or graduate school), but I think it is important for students to consider what is best for them.
Any specific skills you learned at ACR, that has transferred into your current schooling or career?
In a simple way, Arthur’s helped me to begin to be exposed to various types of medication, conditions and therapies. Early exposure has helped to provide context in the things I am learning in school. Through my experiences as a care attendant and Housing Manager, I had the opportunity to develop my ability to interact with other professionals and coordinate the care of individuals. As a physician, these skills are essential and I am thankful to have been able to learn these skills early on. As Housing Manager, I had the unique opportunity to be the “go to person” for staff, clients and families. Through that experience, I learned how to communicate with families in high-stress situations, provide insights, show compassion and walk with them through difficult moments. Although it was not always easy, those experiences were invaluable and helped me become the person I am today. I also learned tangible ways to show individuals dignity and respect. It is easy to talk about the importance of dignity and respect but the opportunity to learn how to do so effectively has been invaluable. Caring for others through the best moments and the worst moments is special. I have developed a passion to meet people where they are and strive to help them achieve their goals. Finally, through my experiences at Arthur’s, I have a growing interest and passion to serve older adults. I am excited to have learned there are many avenues in which I can pursue my passion to serve aging individuals as a physician. I am beyond thankful for my experiences at Arthurs, including the people I met, worked with and had the opportunity to serve. I am confident will carry the things I learned at Arthur’s through the rest of my career.