NMC graduate working in Health Care pursues degree in Physician Assistant Studies at GVSU

May 10, 2022

NMC graduate working in Health Care pursues degree in Physician Assistant Studies at GVSU

Like many students who graduate from high school, Elias Sanchez had aspirations to attend a large, traditional, four-year university many miles away from Traverse City.

Also like many students, Sanchez then realized paying for that type of college experience would have been a financial burden.

“The reality of our financial situation set in, and I was not able to go away for school,” Sanchez said. “I needed to stay in town and help my mom.”

Sanchez received scholarships to enroll in Northwestern Michigan College. He said the student discounts offered by area businesses help to keep costs down, as does living with his mother, rather than renting an apartment with friends.

In April, Sanchez will earn a bachelor’s degree in allied health sciences from Grand Valley State University’s Traverse City Regional Center. He earned an associate degree from NMC.

He is now focused on a career as a physician assistant and plans to apply to Grand Valley’s master’s degree program. As a phlebotomist at Munson Medical Center, Sanchez said he has met PAs and appreciates their interactions with patients and their work-life balance. He hopes someday to work as a PA in a hospital emergency department.

Sanchez had worked as a pizza cook at the Filling Station but wanted to work at the hospital. A friend told him about Munson’s phlebotomy department and its on-the-job training; he was immediately hired. “Sometimes I get to draw blood from patients in the emergency department and I really enjoy it. I like the energy in the emergency department. Plus, I’m quick on my feet and able to multitask,” he said.

He also hopes those connections at the hospital will prove beneficial when it’s time to find a PA job. “By working at Munson now, I’m able to meet people who work in management and develop professional networks,” he said.

He works 12-hour shifts three days a week, which sometimes presents challenges keeping up with homework. But Sanchez said he has developed a good system of time management and credited his manager for being accommodating.

“On my days off, I plow through my school work. I find time to go to the gym and that helps with stress management,” he said. “I have a routine down.”

By Michele Coffill

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Page last modified May 10, 2022