Meet Sharon Girard
A PA for the past 40 years, still currently practicing, Sharon Girard has worked in her passion: women’s health as the thread that has woven her career together. From emergency medicine to urgent care, family medicine and occupational medicine and even a stint practicing internationally in England.
Her career doesn’t stop when we stop talking about clinical medicine. Sharon Girard has been heavily involved with local advocacy and political involvement. There is a significant lacking in PAs represented in state and national government.
If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. PAs need to be at the table. From local government to state to the national and federal level. We need physician associate involvement at the table for these discussions regarding healthcare, bodily autonomy, education and policy change in addition to the PA professional title name change.
For the latest updates on the PA profession name change see this post and my guest Dave Mittman’s thoughts on the future of the PA profession.
Most notable for physician associates involvement at a government representation level is the esteemed Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles, former U.S. House of Representatives member. Karen was the first PA to be elected to that position in the United States. You can learn more about Karen, her career and accomplishments from the Physician Assistant History Society here.
Watch the YouTube Video Here
Ideas to Get Involved
Whether signing petitions, being involved in and aware of local policies, attending school board meetings or city council meetings, there are many opportunities to be involved and informed. PAs are as respected in their communities as our fellow professionals, whether it’s physicians, nurses or dentists.
Regardless of what side of the aisle or what side of the politics you land on, your voice matters. We live in a democracy in the United States and have freedom of speech. Don’t forget that yours has power and as a healthcare professional that voice will be valued and respected.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Those who raise their hands, stand up and raise their voices get heard. Even if you don’t get the first vote and immediate wins. Keep writing letters, attending meetings and being involved.
Feeling scared? Consider raising your voice for those who don’t have a voice. Whether that’s your patient’s, your children, those who are marginalized and underserved in our communities.
Tips for Voting
Review your candidates voting record, which is available to the public. Understand who is running and how they have voted in the past. Take a look at the voting record and evaluate if you agree with the votes that they cast.
Write letters, make phone calls and send emails to those in your local and state government. Those items are tallied by the politicians and do influence how they vote.
The best items to raise your voice about are the topics that pair your training and your passion. Those topics, those issues and those laws are the ones that need you to speak up. Action on a small scale, one voice and one vote at a time all combine to give the people great power.
Find Your Passion
Look inward, get quiet and take time to discover what your passion is inside of medicine and in life. Sharon shares on the episode how
“Nevertheless she persisted” is Sharon’s motto. Take a look at what your passion and motivation is. Find that passion and make the changes to align your life with that passion and purpose.
You can find your dream job if you are willing to make changes, make moves, and be excited about what’s next for you. Each experience builds on your next experience. Everything that you’ve done, good or bad, easy or hard, successful or not-so-successful – that has value.
Persistence is key. Things will get better over time if you are open to change. As you gain experience and go through life your perspective will change.
Following your passion and persisting are the two keys to guide your life.
A Note on Passion & Decisions
Some of the best decisions you’re going to make in life are the ones that frighten you.
Fear is only an illusion only love is real. Fear isn’t real and it doesn’t kill you. Aim to live your life by that love and not base your decisions in fear.
Women can do it all and have it all, just not all at once.
Discover Your Passion
What excites you about positions you’ve had in the past? What job listings continue to catch your eye and what about those positions made you feel hopeful?
Give yourself grace, patience and time. Identify what you don’t like about what you are doing now and what sparks things about what you might want to be doing.
Look for opportunities for connection. Network in person in your local community. Travel to conferences. Find those that are in your position or are further down the road professionally as a physician assistant.
Interest in and awareness of those around you and their passions can help you to discover your passion.
Simply accepting that working in medicine leads to burnout and lifelong dissatisfaction. If you are working in a place that is dysfunctional and toxic, you can leave. Here’s an entire post on what to do if you hate your job.
Don’t let the fear of having a job change on your CV keep you stuck in a position that is draining or unfulfilling. As PAs having different experience and jobs in different areas or specialties is par for the course.
Sharon’s quest has taken her across the country and back, specialty to specialty, and all those changes she chalks up to experience. Don’t stay in a job that is making you sick or draining all your energy.
There are plenty of opportunities. Find someplace that works better for you! Don’t simply accept that the way things are where you work right now is where it will be everywhere.
On Working Motherhood & Mom Guilt
When it comes to mom guilt as a working mom.
Try to spend quality time over getting hung up on the quantity of time you are spending with your children. Let’s let go of this ideal of being stay-at-home moms is the only way to show up well for your children.
If you are a working mom, focus on being the most fulfilled version of yourself. That fulfilled you is the best example you can set for your children.
What’s most important in making sure your children are ok… is making sure that you are OK. You being OK shows them how to live a fulfilling life.
We don’t have to be there every minute of the day to “be there”. What’s important is being there when it matters and being present during those times.
Charting a Career Path
Let’s all agree to be a little more proactive about our PA professional career path. Waiting until you are dreading going to work and beyond burned out to start thinking about making a change and figuring out your next move is too late.
Be proactive in your practice. What’s your next move from a leadership or clinical practice standpoint? Are you growing as a professional and as a clinician?
Anticipate moves during your physician associate career. Think early and often about what your next move is in your path.
A Call to Action
Sharon encouraged us to remember the voice we have, the votes we cast, and the influence that we hold in our community. There are patients on the margins, communities that need to be served, and legislature that is overdue to be updated. PAs can play a significant role in that change, one vote and one voice at a time.