Jennifer Sample, Assistant Professor, Physician Assistant Program
For some of us, deciding what to be "when we grow up" comes naturally. This was the case for Jennifer Sample, who learned to love medicine at the age of six. At that time, Jennifer's brother was admitted to Rainbow Children's Hospital for many months.
"Instead of being afraid of hospitals, I grew to love them," she said. "I spent my time there playing with other children who were patients and decided I wanted to be a doctor." While she ultimately chose to pursue a career as a physician assistant (PA), Jennifer's interest in medicine always had deep roots.
After moving from state to state for her father's job as a child, Jennifer and her family settled in Saybrook, Ohio, where she graduated from Ashtabula High School in 1995. After getting married and having four children, Jennifer graduated from Lake Erie College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Following undergrad, Jennifer worked as a substitute teacher for the Madison Local School District before starting the PA program at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. She graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Sciences degree in 2006 and began working as a primary care PA at Lake County Family Practice. She also worked part-time at 4M Emergency Services at UH Geauga County Hospital during this time.
After three and a half years in those positions, Jennifer began working in her current position at the Cleveland Clinic Emergency Services Institute in 2009. While working clinically, she has served as a preceptor to many PA students, ultimately joining the faculty at LEC part-time in March 2013 and full-time in January 2014 as an assistant professor in the PA program.
A graduate of LEC herself, Jennifer has always felt at home on campus. "I love the small class sizes and the family atmosphere that is fostered here, as it makes coming to work fun," she said. "Being able to promote the PA profession and teach in a place that I love is a double blessing."
A passionate teacher, Jennifer's favorite part of her job is the "light bulb moment" that happens when her students apply and understand concepts she's taught them. She teaches everything from reading EKGs and diagnostic images to the performance and interpretation of lab tests. "Nothing is more rewarding than the light bulb moment," she said. "Seeing my students be proud of themselves is one of the best experiences."
In addition to these moments in class, Jennifer also enjoys having the opportunity to inform applicants when they've been accepted to the program. "Getting into PA school is extremely competitive, with only about 10% of the total number of applicants nationwide making it into a program," she said. "Calling students and welcoming them to Lake Erie College is one of the many wonderful things I get to do in my job."
Despite the difficulty involved in entering the PA discipline, Jennifer feels that the program is incredibly worthwhile. "As a PA you get to practice medicine autonomously while still under the supervision of a physician," she said. This atmosphere allows for collaboration and teamwork without requiring a restrictive specialization. "Being a PA offers the flexibility of changing specialties while providing job security if one area of medicine becomes saturated," said Jennifer. "Plus, you have the option of teaching!"Altogether, Jennifer feels that there is no better place to prepare for a career as a PA than Lake Erie. "The students here are some of the most genuine, caring and kind people you could ever hope to meet," she said. "They are going to be outstanding, exemplary PAs."