Meet Jennifer Moon Pavlish, a 1997 Department of Public Health Sciences graduate. This alumna has orange running through her veins as her father, a track athlete, and grandfather, a WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient were both Clemson students. Today, one of her daughters is also carrying on the family tradition of attending Clemson. Moon Pavlish is an anesthesiologist assistant, and we caught up with her in between surgeries to learn more about her career and Clemson experience.
Q: Describe your career path. I have been a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (C-AA) for almost 24 years. Immediately after Clemson, I attended Case Western Reserve University to earn a Master of Science in Anesthesiology degree. After working for the Cleveland Clinic for two years, I moved back south with my husband, Craig Pavlish, a Clemson 1998 graduate, to work in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and, most recently, in Seneca at Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital.
Q: What is your job like? I deliver anesthesia under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. I work alongside CRNAs (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) and other C-AAs. On any given day, I could do a variety of cases from neurosurgery to pediatrics. However, my favorite is vascular surgery because of the challenge presented. Just like nurses, there is a need for anesthetists all over the country.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to meet people on a pretty bad day in their life and help them heal. AAs are definitely important team members in the operating room. As surgeons depend on us to independently deliver anesthesia safely, with general oversight from the anesthesiologist, which also includes managing the vitals and breathing of any patient during the procedure.
Q: How did Clemson prepare you for your career in healthcare? The pre-med classes at Clemson prepared me for 24 months of rigorous studying in anesthesia school. Volunteering in hospitals around Clemson for my major also made me realize the pathway I wanted to pursue in medicine.
Q: What is your favorite Clemson memory? My favorite Clemson memory was winning the 1997 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which is presented to two seniors for outstanding service to the University and the community. It was an honor to be chosen because of all of the volunteer work I completed while a student at Clemson. Dr. Cheryl Rainey was my mentor while I was a health science major, and we conducted smoking prevention presentations for schools around Clemson. We also went into the community to educate women in Appalachia about the importance of breast exams and mammograms.
Working in medicine is great because it allows you to share your own skills with others. If there is one thing the last two years has taught us, is that we need to help each other not only stay physically healthy but mentally as well.Jennifer Moon Pavlish
Q: Any advice for students wanting a similar career? There are currently 14 AA schools in the country. The application and requirements are similar to those for medical school. As a Clemson student, you should volunteer as much as you can in different settings. You will receive far more from the experience than you think and meet amazing people that can help you along the way. Also, get to know your professors. They are a wealth of knowledge and pretty great people. It is their passion to teach, and they can help you decide your own path. Finally, work as much as you can when you are young. I believe the 10,000 hours needed to master something applies to most things in life and in medicine too. Working in medicine is great because it allows you to share your own skills with others. If there is one thing the last two years has taught us, is that we need to help each other not only stay physically healthy but mentally as well.
Q: Do you volunteer with any organizations? I volunteer with the Veterans Heritage Project, which helps connect veterans with teenagers so they can share their stories. Veterans hold a special place in my heart as my grandfather is a WWII veteran and Purple Heart Recipient. I believe veterans are truly the most selfless people.
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