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Endicott College alumna Samantha Van Tassel ’19 Biology When Samantha Van Tassel ‘19 started her Endicott journey, she knew she wanted to be a physician assistant (PA). Today the world of healthcare looks drastically different as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, but her experience has prepared her for everything. She says, “I have had a few friends ask me, ‘How is work, are you dealing with a lot of sick patients?’ and the answer to that is yes, but that has been my job since I started three years ago.”

As a biology major at Endicott, Van Tassel shadowed physicians and PAs in various fields during her internships. This allowed her to work in a variety of settings such as pediatrics, cardiology, orthopedics, and more. It was through this extensive experience that she realized that she belonged in the emergency department (ED). Sophomore year, she became EMT certified and now is currently working in the ED at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass. As far as plans for continuing her education, she says, “I knew that working in the ED would allow me to get a wide range of experiences under my belt and better prepare me for the challenges of PA school.”

But for now, Van Tassel continues her vital work as a technician in the ED at Holy Family and is exposed to COVID-19 positive patients on a daily basis—even if they don’t know it at the time. “Being the first health care worker that interacts with the patient at the front door can be nerve-wracking since I am unaware of their chief complaint and whether or not they are a potential person under investigation,” she says. “I have come in contact with patients for a whole shift without PPE [personal protective equipment] and then found out later that they tested positive.”

It's a scary situation, but Van Tassel remains strong and knows the risks. She says, “The ED is an uncertain place I walk into work every day knowing that I could come into contact with anything from Hepatitis C to HIV or that I could be assaulted by an acutely psychotic patient, but those are risks that I took on when I accepted my position.” Fortunately, she doesn’t have to go it alone. “I find comfort in the fact that my department works as I team, we protect one another and have everyone's best interest at heart. We are all in this together and we will come out of this a stronger team than before.”