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Jamie Jang
October 18, 2023

Reading the Vital Signs: A Student's Journey to Finding the Right Care Profession

Jamie Jang is a motivated exercise science major planning a career as a physician assistant. But as a freshman, she started on a different track. Jamie took advantage of first-year academic exploration as well as LifeWorks opportunities to chart a path for her future.

When Jamie visited Berry, she was drawn to animal science because of volunteer work with an animal shelter in her hometown. Once enrolled, however, she enjoyed elements of the major, but other parts did not fit her career expectations. Though she loved studying biology, Jamie discovered how much she enjoyed human interaction through her campus job as a writing center consultant helping students one-on-one with assignments.

While playing on the softball team that year, she connected with an exercise science professor assisting with weight training. Jamie met with the professor to get a better understanding of exercise science and to see how her interests might fit the curriculum. Together, they mapped out prospective career trajectories related to human health care.

“As a first-year student, I genuinely thought that changing my major was the end of the world. Then I talked with a knowledgeable professor about what was realistic,” she says. “We discussed the different ways I could apply my learning to future careers, and she changed my perspective. Swapping my major was not a huge deal, and I realized I didn’t have to know my exact path on day one.”

Jamie revised her plan of study and loves what she’s learning in classes like anatomy and physiology. “I wrote up a case study on a disease and practiced writing notes for an imaginary patient file,” she explains. “We researched how the disease would present itself and then how to explain that to the patient.”

Aligning LifeWorks positions with her goals, Jamie became the assistant director of the Ladd Center, Berry’s student health center, where she takes vitals, performs swabs for COVID-19 and strep, and manages the outreach teams and online appointments. Some of her greatest challenges have involved mediating conversations and helping alleviate the medical staff’s workload, but she sees the benefit and application of these moments for real-world settings.

Similarly, Jamie’s experience as a Berry football athletic trainer has grown her understanding of holistic patient care, especially in cases where athletes are overcoming difficult injuries. She attends practices and works with athletes on pre- and post-practice treatments.

The most impactful experience, however, is volunteering three hours weekly at the Free Clinic of Rome, a nonprofit providing health-care services to uninsured residents. After a frustrating hiccup with her out-of-state medical insurance during an athletic injury, Jamie wanted to learn more about how underinsured patients receive proper care.

“Although the roles and tasks I perform are similar to the Ladd Center, I work and help care for an older adult population,” she notes. “Serving at the Free Clinic of Rome has taught me about how to care for a variety of patient circumstances.”

Reflecting on finding her fit at Berry, Jamie encourages students: “Take time to see the big picture — the lessons of the now. You will learn a lot about yourself.”

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