HSC PA student launches amazing career amidst a global pandemic

By Sally Crocker and Steven BartolottaCn 1

Shannon Swickard knew she wanted to pursue a career in health care early on in her academic journey. 

That career path was an easy choice because she had a cherished role model – her grandmother, a nurse practitioner. 

Swickard earned her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and a master’s degree in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University.  

When it was time to apply to a Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program, her first interview was at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC). She knew immediately it was the place for her.  

“I really liked the program and the people were incredibly kind and friendly,” said Swickard.  “HSC was the right fit and I’m very fortunate to have graduated from the PA program where they provided me the knowledge and expertise to be successful in my career.” 

As her studies neared an end in 2020, Swickard focused on pediatrics.  

A May 2020 graduate of the PA program, Swickard knew she wanted to combine her passion for working with kids with her newly earned degree.  Despite everything shutting down around her due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she remained focused on the next phase of her career.  

Swickard landed her dream job at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after applying to 10 different children’s hospitals across the country, she accepted her position in August of last year with a start date of November. Even though everything seemed to be falling into place, she had to navigate the logistics of a cross country move amidst a global pandemic.  

“The credentialing process moved very slowly,” she said. 

Swickard had to find a place to live online sight unseen. She had to sell all her furniture and her car as she prepared for her big move. 

“Accepting the idea of not having a car was a big decision for me because I’ve always driven everywhere,” said Swickard.  “Sometimes I still miss the freedom that comes from having my own car but public transportation has its benefits as well.” 

Upon her arrival in D.C., she immediately jumped into her new career. She spends her days working with children in the surgical unit. She also works with children during pre- and post-operative care on the clinic floor. 

“While there are definitely tough days mentally and physically, I’m so thankful for all the positivity that surrounds me in the hospital,” said Swickard.  “Everything we do is centered around the kids, and I’m blessed to be able to help them and their families through some really tough situations.”  

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