Office Hours: Jasmine Cofield
Jasmine Cofied @jaye.thePA
Physician Assistant Studies M.S. Student at University of Detroit Mercy
What inspired you to attend grad school?
To become a Physician Assistant, it is required to pursue a postgrad degree. Fortunately, this is a terminal degree for this profession and I can immediately start working after I graduate.
Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?
My proudest grad school moment (thus far) was actually getting accepted into a program! To give a little background, there are over 200 Physician Assistant (PA) programs in the country and each program has a 2-5% acceptance rate. To increase the chances of getting accepted (or even an interview), the average student applies to 9-20 programs. I could only afford to apply to 4. Due to most students having to reapply, or take time to get requirements (healthcare experience, letter of rec, etc), the average age of a PA student is 27. I was 22 entering the program, with zero help with the central PA application, personal statements, etc. Looking back, I had all odds stacked against me, and was still able to get accepted into 2 out of 4 of those programs on my first try. I did not understand the magnitude of that feat until I heard others’ journeys to PA school. I will be forever grateful for that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?
“No one cares as much as you think they do” Lol. I know this sounds harsh but one of my colleagues told me this and I’ve been running with it ever since! What she meant by this was we tend to base decisions or have feelings towards something based on what we think others will think of us, and the problem is....people do not care as much as we think! Whether you’re worried about feeling embarrassed for failing in your program, or think since you’re at the top of your class, it should be a day parade held in your honor, people are so wrapped up in their own
studies (or problems), no one is thinking about the next. So do things for you, and don’t fixate on what others will think about you for it because 9 times out of 10, they do not.
If you had to describe your Black grad experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?
Rihanna- "I Hate That I Love You." My program is the last leg of this journey that stands between me and the career I’ve dreamt about since I was 14. It has challenged and pushed me beyond my limits. I’ve never experienced something that caused me to question myself so much. I just think it’s funny what we’ll put ourselves through to get what we want.
What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?
Realizing what used to work in undergrad does not work in grad school. Things have always been naturally easy for me to understand. Now that I am in a rigorous program, I can’t use the same study habits (which I thought were excellent btw) and time management skills that worked for me before. Recognizing the problem and reaching out to resources has been very useful for me.
What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?
We all could use some humbling. I found myself having to take the advice I would always give my friends from undergrad, and nothing is more humbling than that. I had to realize I was now in a program with students who were also at the top of their respective undergrad classes, had years of experience, and similar resumes. This was not a time to compare or compete, if I was truly passionate about healthcare and diversity in medicine, I needed to stay in my own lane and focus on why I was there in the first place.
If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself? Why?
Be yourself. My favorite part about being a black professional is our duality. I live for the “You can do both” saying. I am so mad at myself for trying so hard to ‘fit in’ the first few weeks of my program, and I was not being genuine. I hate how a lot of minorities try to mask our culture to try to fit in this idea of what a professional supposed to act and look like. From my experience, our counterparts defy (and don’t think twice about the consequences from it) this ideology more than we do.
How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?
It's a blessing and a curse. Being first-gen, you often have to learn things through trial-and-error. And although most persevere through this, I often wonder what we could really accomplish if someone who are already where we want to be would give us those gems beforehand. As far as being 1 of 2 black students in a class of 60, it is a lot of pressure. Of course you feel the
inevitable pressure to represent but you kind of have a chip on your shoulder, waiting to prove anyone that questions your capabilities, wrong.
How do you intend to use your degree in the future?
My specialty of interest has always been pediatrics and working with the youth.Since I am a proud Flint native, I plan on coming back to the city that raised me to have an active involvement in improving the health disparities that stemmed from the city’s lead exposure.
What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?
I would tell someone pursuing any medical program that delayed is not denied. Stick to the fight until you are fulfilling your first passion, otherwise you’ll never be completely happy. Many of my classmates had already applied to my program 2-4 times before getting accepted into my cohort. Their perseverance was admirable. More importantly, network! We all know a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. A majority of the opportunities that helped shape my acceptance into a program was telling anyone who was willing to listen what I wanted to be and actively looking for mentors. I remember searching hashtags on Instagram and Twitter ‘Black Physician Assistants’ or “Physician Assistant programs’ to find accounts of strangers that were in PA school already so I could ask questions. Before I knew it, I was connected to a network of many resources. To give back and make it easier for the next aspiring, black PA, I created a GroupMe and Facebook group (shameless plug) filled with black Physician Assistants and PA students so we could all be easily accessible to answer questions, share experiences, and network with other students of color who are pursuing this field.
Feel free to reach out to Jasmine: cofieLjm@udmercy.edu
Follow on Twitter and Instagram: @jaye.thePA, and Facebook: Jasmine Cofield