Zach Bautista, MPAS ’19, PA-C, an emergency medicine physician assistant at UF Health and alumnus of UF’s School of Physician Assistant Studies, finds joy in educating others. From helping patients understand what is happening to their bodies in the emergency room to training new hires and rotating students in the department, teaching is a crucial and rewarding part of his work.
Growing up in the Florida Panhandle, Bautista was exposed to medicine and health care by his parents from a young age. His father worked as a pharmacist, and his mother, a nurse practitioner, ran her own hormone replacement therapy practice. Seeing the way his mom built strong, unique relationships with her patients was admirable, he said, and he looked to her as a role model and inspiration for his own work. But he didn’t know the PA field existed until a classmate in his undergraduate psychology course told him about it.
“The PA profession was a natural fit for me,” he said. “Once I got to my interview at UF, it was pretty much a no-brainer … The atmosphere, the program, they really felt like a family.”
Being mentored by another Black male PA student in the year ahead of him at UF really made a difference, Bautista said. He was able to receive good advice and benefit from seeing someone who looked like him succeed. Now, almost four years after graduation, he hopes to one day return to academic medicine and put his experiences and love for teaching to use as a PA professor.
“I feel fortunate that I’ve had people in my department say I’m a good teacher,” he said. “It’s one of the things I enjoy the most and am most proud of. I try to make sure that students and patients feel listened to, educated, heard and understood. We can all reflect on any good teachers we’ve had throughout our lives and how big of a difference they can make. I think it would be nice to give back that way.”