Featured in Saratoga Today Newspaper
BY HELEN EDELMAN WALKER
SARATOGA SPRINGS —Saratoga Hospital Community Health Center (CHC) physician assistant Samuel Halajian, MPAS, PA-C, traveled a circuitous pathway to his career. Pivoting away from his success in film and TV production, Halajian now renders medical care both in a clinic setting and in the street to those with medical needs, regardless of their ability to pay.
A Briarcliff, New York, native, Halajian, a husband and father at 38, describes his early life as “an artist, always.” But even as a student at New York University, he found himself drawn to train as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and, once certified, he volunteered in Ossining, New York. Soon, despite making a professional mark in visual media, he yearned for more responsibility in medicine and became a paramedic, “physically and emotionally demanding work,” he recalls, in busy urban settings, like the Bronx, where he was exposed to a range of serious and stressful situations and problems, including violence, accidents, and injury.
“I loved it, but it was wearing me down,” says the Ballston Spa resident. “I couldn’t imagine doing it for 30 or 40 years. Then I learned about opportunities as a physician assistant, and it was definitely attractive to me. I knew I wanted to be in medicine, but I didn’t want to spend years and years in medical school. Being a P.A. was the answer.”
A physician assistant (P.A.) is a mid-level health care provider who may diagnose illnesses, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and serve as a principal health care provider.
After researching his options, Halajian discovered that one of the best P.A. programs in the United States is through the military. In exchange for his extensive medical education, he committed six years of service after completing the training to the Army Reserves; he has two left to go.
“It’s definitely not ‘free’ schooling,” he points out, adding, “The training was fantastic. The Army program is among the top 10 among about 300 in the United States.” Last year, Halajian was temporarily deployed as an Army medical officer to Eastern Europe.
“I love my work for both the Army and the Saratoga Hospital Community Health Center,” he enthuses, “The people I work with in health care are passionate about what we’re doing.”
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