The path to a white coat started young for one PA student

College Of Education Graduation Sed 27
Delgado Rosas with her parents. Photo by Sara Diggins, courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman.

For first-year physician assistant student Noelia Delgado Rosas, the path to her white coat ceremony began at a young age.

When she was in middle school, her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer and Delgado Rosas attended many appointments with her. Along with the stress and uncertainty of having a sick parent, there were additional layers of complication that Delgado Rosas quickly took notice of.

“My parents didn’t have a high school education, and experiences at hospitals drove language barriers and challenges,” she said. “Even securing transportation to appointments and procedures was also a barrier with a foreign language.”

Eventually, a provider entered her mother’s care team that showed a glimpse at Delgado Rosas’ future – a bilingual PA.

“She shared so much knowledge with us and most importantly, shared it in a way that we could understand,” she said.

Her experience in assisting her mother piqued her interest in the health care field.

“I recognized the social determinants of health when my mom was sick and wanted to reduce those barriers that I identified with. I wanted to communicate with patients,” she said. Her next move would be to identify what that role would be.

Throughout high school in Lake Whitney where she grew up, she shadowed physical therapists. Then in college at The University of Texas at Austin, she spent time shadowing occupational therapists — her older sister had pursued that path.

During her sophomore year, Delgado Rosas was working as a patient care technician at a hospital and got a first-hand look at many roles in health care. She was quickly drawn back to the field.

“I had the opportunity to shadow an urgent care physician in Austin and nine out of 10 patients that they saw spoke Spanish,” she said. “I was able to communicate with them well and it was so impactful for me to represent Hispanic culture and see the way they would light up because I also spoke Spanish. They could tell me everything.”

Delgado Rosas was drawn to The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth because of its proximity to Lake Whitney and her family, but her interview experience solidified her choice.

“When I came to campus to interview, everyone made it clear how much they cared about student success and support,” she said. “HSC is welcoming and has so many resources to help students.”

On Friday, August 25, Delgado Rosas will take the next step in her journey to becoming a bilingual PA in the university’s traditional White Coat Ceremony. The ceremony serves as a significant milestone for students, fostering a sense of professionalism and empathy through a psychological contract as they don their white coats for the first time. This event highlights the fundamental values of the institution, including education, research, patient care and service.

Delgado Rosas will be donning her white coat and saying the PA oath when an extra sense of pride, as her mother and father will be in attendance.

“A lot of my hard work is for my parents,” said Delgado Rosas. “They gave me opportunities and supported me all throughout my journey, even if it’s not academic. They’ve shown me so much love and support and now I am where I need to be.

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