Enrolling in the physician assistant studies master’s program at UToledo was a “no brainer” for Sarah Felix.
Felix is from Toledo and graduated from St. Ursula Academy, which is about two miles from the University. Her father and brother are UToledo alumni, and her family still lives here.
And the physician assistant studies program was a huge draw for her when she finished her bachelor’s at Ohio State University.
“A big goal for me was to make it back home and make it into the program, which is pretty competitive,” she said. “And commuting from home and having that time with my family is a nice luxury,” including being around for her sister’s high school graduation.
Her connection to UToledo also is rooted in the neighborhood that surrounds campus. Following her graduation in less than two weeks with her master’s degree in biomedical science and a concentration in physician assistant studies, Felix, 24, will decide between one of two job opportunities at a Toledo-area hospital.
“Toledo is my home and I plan to stay,” she said. “I just want to give back to the community that made me what I am.”
It will be a smooth transition from school to career. And that’s because she’s worked hard to make that happen, beginning as a junior in high school when she participated in a St. Ursula shadow experience, “Women in Health Professions,” at the UToledo College of Medicine.
“It was unlike anything I’d seen before,” Felix said, “and I’m still inspired by everything that I’ve seen there.”
Transitioning into the physician assistant studies program following her OSU graduation was also seamless, she said.
And then the pandemic started.
While virtual classes for hands-on work as a physician assistant presented their own set of challenges for Felix, the pandemic did afford her some unique opportunities, including volunteering for the first distribution of vaccines at UToledo during her first semester and later participating in contact tracing for Lucas County.
“Being a student in the pandemic is interesting, at best,” she said. “But this is something that I will always remember and will tell my grandkids about. I feel like I’m part of something bigger.”
Steadily guiding her and her peers through it all have been her faculty mentors, she added.
“They have always been in my corner,” Felix said. “There are 22 of us in our cohort, so it’s pretty easy to get to know each other and the faculty. It’s been a fun ride to get to know everyone on a more personal level.”
April Gardner, the physician assistant program director, said Felix has been “a joy to work with” through the past 27 months.
“Not only did she excel in both the didactic and clinical phases of our rigorous academic program, she did it with the challenges a pandemic brings,” Gardner said. “Sarah volunteered throughout her time in the program. She served as the secretary of the student professional organization, SAAAPA. She was also a peer leader for the anatomy course, mentoring new matriculating PA students in their first challenging course.
“We are thrilled to know that Sarah plans to remain in Toledo to practice medicine. This is a huge win for the UToledo, our PA program and the patients we serve in our community.”