Amanda (AJ) Doucette MPAS ’18

Amanda (AJ) Doucette MPAS ’18 Brings Campuses Together to Raise Funds for Alzheimer’s Research

  • Amanda (AJ) Doucette MPAS ’18 is proving that when it comes to making a difference, it is all about teamwork.

    On September 25, 2016, Doucette will lead a group of Physician Assistant students and faculty from all three Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) campuses at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Boston Walk in Cambridge, MA.

    Doucette was inspired to begin the MCPHS Physician Assistant team because of her personal connection to the disease: her aunt passed away from Alzheimer’s when she was young, and she has worked with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

    And, as word spread about her walk, MCPHS has risen to the occasion. Faculty and students from School of Physician Assistant Studies on the MCPHS–Boston, MCPHS–Worcester, and MCPHS–Manchester campuses have come together to advance Alzheimer’s support, care, and research.

    We sat down with Doucette to hear more about her inspiration for coordinating the MCPHS team, as well as her future career aspirations.

    You were recently inspired to begin an MCPHS PA team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Greater Boston Walk. How has the experience been?

    When I first started organizing a MCPHS PA Program team, I had imagined asking my classmates and having a few being interested and committing to the team. What started out as just throwing out some “feelers” for interest has turned into having multiple campuses involved! I had asked Christopher Cooper, our program director, for permission to affiliate with MCPHS and he connected me with many people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The amount of support from MCPHS and my classmates across the board has been very enlightening.

    Who will be walking with you?

    As of now we have ten students and several faculty members, but there is so much time for those who expressed interest to still join the team! I think once school starts and everyone gets out of their laid back summer mindset, a flood of people will join the team. I encourage everyone to get involved, and if they don’t want to walk for MCPHS PA Program, they can organize their own team as well. There are also options to fundraise and donate, either for a specific team member or for the team as a whole.

    Tell us a little about your inspiration for coordinating the MCPHS PA team for this Alzheimer’s Walk.

    I definitely have aspirations to be involved in Alzheimer’s research once I’m done with school – it is a disease that has plagued my life in many different ways. When I was younger, my aunt battled Alzheimer’s until its ugly end. As I got older, my family told me more details of her last years and it honestly scared me. For two years before attending MCPHS, I worked with cognitively impaired residents, many who were suffering from Alzheimer’s. Working with these people and helping their families cope really imprinted something in me that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. My cousin, who is on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Team Committee, just lost her grandmother to this disease and I was going to join her team when the idea came to me to get some of my classmates involved. After emailing a few people, it just seemed to snowball from there, and now both Machester and Worcester PA Programs are involved!

    What is your biggest hope for this walk?

    I want to get people involved and I want people to be aware. Alzheimer’s is not rare enough for people to never have heard of it, however I think if it could have its own little “Ice Bucket Challenge” moment amazing things can be done. Donating can be difficult, especially when it is a team full of hungry graduate students, so I and other students donated the little that we can and plan on fundraising with family and friends. I hope that we can contribute to the research that helps find the cause and even the cure of Alzheimer’s.

    The MCPHS PA team have raised $765 so far – well done!

    The amount of money we raised so far is a little surprising! There are so many of us who feel so strongly about this disease that I think some people hit the ground running with fundraising.

    How has your MCPHS education helped you to develop your leadership skills, which you’ve used to coordinate this walk?

    Honestly, it is the people that MCPHS has chosen to employ and also enroll into the PA program that has encouraged me to be a better leader. We have so many natural born leaders in our program that have already done some pretty amazing things. It really inspires you to be the best that you can be.

    How has your time at MCPHS influenced your career goals?

    A quote from multiple professors and lectures has always stuck with me: “Treat the patient, not the disease.” The professors at MCPHS are very patient-centered and I believe that really shape me to be a patient-centered caregiver.

    Why did you choose the healthcare field?

    It is so cliché, but I just want to help people – the main goal of most who come into the medical field. Disease and cancer have taken some of the greatest people in my life, both my grandmother and father, at such an early age that a goal I have is to do my best so that other people never have to go through that. I want to be there for those who are forced to lose a loved one with the compassion that was shown to me when I lost mine.

    What is it about the physician assistant profession that makes you most excited?

    I’ve always wanted to help take care of people, but one of the main draws of the physician assistant profession is the independence of being a caregiver with that relationship and the guidance of the physician. It is a huge team effort, and in caring for a patient I will never feel afraid to ask for help or opinions of my physician and others on the care team.

    Where do you see yourself working when you graduate?

    I’ve had so many experiences that have shaped the type of caregiver that I want to be and have met so many compassionate doctors, nurses, and physician assistants, that I’m keeping a completely open mind as to where I’m going to end up after I graduate. I can see myself getting into research, particularly Alzheimer’s and neurology, but I also have interests in oncology as well. I’ve worked with Alzheimer’s patients, as well as cancer patients, and their experience and stories have shaped my world as well. If there is a way to combine all of my passions into one specialty, I will do it!

    Interested in learning about what some of our other PA students are up to? Click here read our interview with Clarissa Ronzio MPAS ’18 on her experience as student representative for the MA Association of PAs.