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From the military to becoming a physician assistant

Editor’s Note: The Commencement Ceremony for the graduating Class of 2016 will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2016. For more information on Commencement, visit this site. 

A little more than two years ago, Myra Galusha was looking for a physician assistant program that would be tough enough to balance out her lack of medical background.

At Penn State College of Medicine, the 32-year-old Michigan native found that and more: “That part was not a let-down,” she laughed.

Galusha is one of 144 medical students, 81 graduate students, and 30 physician assistants who will receive degrees this Sunday.

Myra Galusha

Myra Galusha

Galusha completed the military academy at West Point, majored in law, and then spent more than five years in the Army. After multiple deployments and time overseas, she eventually left the military. She and her husband, Colt – who is from the Gettysburg area – decided to move back to Pennsylvania when he got a job at Fort Indiantown Gap as an instructor pilot.

After leaving her work in military intelligence, Galusha’s sports background – and history of multiple sports injuries – drew her to the medical field. Being a new mother, she didn’t want to attempt medical school, so a physician assistant program seemed like a better fit.

“I wanted the flexibility to move around to different specialties and to have the flexibility to have a life outside of work,” she said.

Her search for a physician assistant program near a military base worked out when she was accepted into the first graduating class for the new program at the College of Medicine.

As an Army veteran, Galusha said she especially enjoyed doing many of her clinical rotations at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon.

“They were all great,” she said. “That was my favorite part. I really liked that we didn’t just stay at Hershey but got to go out to smaller locations in the community and see how different places run. I thought it was beneficial to see who things work outside of a big, academic medical center.”

Although the first year of all-day lectures and weekends filled with studying were grueling, she felt prepared during the second year when she went out on rotations. “I always felt like I knew a good amount,” she said.

Galusha was the recipient of one of two Dean’s Awards given to students graduating from the physician assistant program.

After graduation, Galusha, who just gave birth to her second daughter, plans to work in either emergency medicine or general practice.

Galusha said she enjoys working as part of a care team and doesn’t mind not being the boss.

“To me, that’s a good thing,” she said. “There are more eyes on what I am doing. I realize that nobody knows it all.”

– Jennifer Vogelsong

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