Shalon Buchs, MHS, PA-C, was the only physician assistant at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Early Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar in Denver. The conference, which included mainly physicians and PhDs, focused on equipping early career women in academic medicine with additional skills.
“I gained all of the things I should’ve gained from the conference,” Buchs said. “Being the only PA at the conference gave me the opportunity to really help physicians understand us, how we’re educated and how we can help them.”
The professional merge between physicians and physician assistants is an important one, Buchs said. PAs learn as a collaborative team, and the academic setting is where the teamwork begins.
“If we, as academic clinicians, model that collaboration, it’s even better for our students to see how it should be working in a clinical setting,” Buchs said.
As the associate director and admissions coordinator for the UF College of Medicine School of Physician Assistant studies, Buchs’ profession combines two passions — medicine and teaching. As a child, she waivered between becoming a doctor or a teacher, and while studying psychology at UF, she learned about physician assistants.
“When I started teaching students as part of UF’s clinical preceptor programs … I realized I was doing two things that I love. I was combining medicine and teaching.”
— Shalon Buchs, MHS, PA-C
Buchs began her career as a high school math teacher and nurses’ aid but soon realized she enjoyed teaching but not classroom management. After two years as a math teacher, she attended PA school at Duke University and then returned to Florida to practice clinically.
“When I started teaching students as part of UF’s clinical preceptor programs,” she said. “I realized I was doing two things that I love. I was combining medicine and teaching.”
Because of her teaching and clinical experiences, Buchs was an ideal fit for an open faculty position at the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies in 2008.
“I would have to say that my favorite part of working with students is their success,” Buchs said. “I love watching the lightbulb go off.”