Alumni Spotlight: Physician Assistant – Kayla Ferrari ’12
March 4, 2019
Kayla Ferrari received her bachelors in biological sciences from Chapman in 2012. Following graduation, Kayla went on to graduate school at the University of Southern California. She now works as a physician assistant at Altamed Medical Group in Santa Ana.
During her time at Chapman, Kayla served as president of Global Medical Brigades, was an active member of the Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity, Mortar Board, triBeta and the National Honor Society, all while working as a resident advisor.
Read more below as Kayla shares her professional insights and Chapman memories.
Q: Tell us about your career – what do you do on a day to day basis?
Every day consists of listening to heartbeats, consoling sick individuals both young and old, and figuring out the next piece of the puzzle- I am a physician assistant, otherwise known as a PA. I work at a federally qualified health center in a family practice setting with an emphasis on chronic diseases. 90% of my patients have chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and kidney disease. Primary care providers will refer their complex patients to me so I can better manage them, and once I get their symptoms under control I will send them back to their primary provider. I see these patients multiple times a month so we can be more aggressive in their disease management since a lot of these diseases can be life-threatening.
Q: What led you to your current role?
I was stuck at a crossroads of whether I wanted to go into medical school or PA school. I took both exams, applied to both professions, and had the opportunity to go to both. Many people question why I declined the “obvious” route of becoming a doctor. I was not scared away by the many years of schooling or large debt I would incur. Simply, there was just more factors that drew me to the PA profession. I liked the fact that I could go into whatever speciality whenever I wanted a change; I was not stuck in one specialty. In 5 years from now, if I want to switch from family practice to surgery, I am able to do so. Many doctors I shadowed also told me that if they were to do it over again, they would choose to become a PA….I listened to them and I am glad I did.
Q: What insight do you have to offer current Schmid students and alumni who are searching for employment?
It is all about networking..find a networking club, join your profession’s association to receive job postings, or reach out to professors to see if they know of anyone hiring.
Q: How has your Chapman degree helped you?
Chapman helped provide the foundation for me to enter graduate school. It prepared me academically and provided a variety of extracurricular opportunities that allowed me to gain leadership skills and volunteer hours.
Q: What was a challenge you had as a student and how did you overcome it?
When I was at Chapman, I was so grateful for the many opportunities it gave me and so naturally I put my hands in everything. As one would guess, it could get overwhelming very easily. I had to learn very quickly how to balance my time between attending class, studying, and participating in club meetings/events. I remember not even having Sundays free! It was just one of those responsibilities that I had to get done to achieve my end goal of graduating with honors.
Q: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
College goes by fast, it is the quickest four years of your life so make it count. Put your studies first, but make time for the college experience of establishing friendships and joining clubs that will enhance your skills for graduate school. Even join a club that is outside your comfort zone- I bet it will surprise you and you will meet lifelong friends from it.
Q: Which Schmid faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and how?
Dr. Sumida, Dr. Funk, Dr. Hill, and Dr. Frisch are some memorable Schmid faculty that prepared me for graduate school. Their courses were some of the most demanding, but also the most valued. They spent the time patiently explaining concepts that I could not have learned by just reading a book. This allowed me to apply the information to my graduate school courses.
Q: What is your favorite Chapman and/or Schmid memory?
My favorite Schmid memory was traveling to Honduras for four summers in a row with Global Medical Brigades. It was an incredible organization where a group of Schmid students raised money and medicine through the year, and at the end of the year we traveled to Honduras to set up medical clinics in rural parts of the country. It combined all of my passions of helping others, learning medicine, and traveling into one.
Q: Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
I am on the Health Science Advisory Committee and was an advisor for Chapman’s Alpha Gamma Delta chapter. Hopefully one day I can teach for Chapman’s PA program!