Haley Jacobs ’17 is putting her McDaniel education to work at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
Whether dribbling a soccer ball or juggling exam schedules, Haley Jacobs ’17 is a pro at time management and self-discipline. She ended up at McDaniel because she knew she wanted to play college soccer, but she needed to be able to really focus on her academics as well — after all, she had dreams of a career in medicine.
“I was torn between Exercise Science, which is now Kinesiology, or Chemistry or Biology,” Jacobs says. “I decided to go with Kinesiology after I learned that you work with both the mind and the body, and I loved being able to focus on sports.”
Jacobs played soccer all 4 years at McDaniel and graduated with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in Biology. The turning point for her in her career path came during Jan Term her sophomore year, when she completed an internship at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“Seeing all those specialties work alongside each other, I really had a connection with the physician assistants I worked with,” Jacobs says. “They were really focused on the collaborative aspect of medicine and health care, working with the EMTs, the doctors, the nursing staff and the techs. I knew then that was what I wanted to do as my career.”
“Seeing all those specialties work alongside each other, I really had a connection with the physician assistants I worked with. They were really focused on the collaborative aspect of medicine and health care, working with the EMTs, the doctors, the nursing staff and the techs. I knew then that was what I wanted to do as my career.”
Jacobs began applying to PA school in her junior year and ultimately enrolled at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where she began classes just 10 days after ringing out on McDaniel’s Old Main Bell. It was in her first few days at Jefferson that she realized she was the youngest member of her class. Most of her classmates had taken a gap year or were making career changes rather than jumping in mere days after getting their bachelor’s degrees like her.
“It was very humbling,” Jacobs says. “They helped me realize that I have a lot to learn in life, but it was also an incredible feeling to be able to talk to these people who are older and have more life experience than me and still feel like I’m one of them.”
And she credits her 4 years as a Green Terror with her success. “I was used to having late games and then studying for an exam the next day,” Jacobs says. “In PA school, we had an average of three exams per week, and would sometimes be in class for 12 hours a day. Then there was studying when you got home. I was very appreciative for being a student-athlete and having learned that discipline and time management at McDaniel.”
Her hard work paid off. Jacobs graduated with her M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies in August 2019, passed her board exam, and then began her career as a PA at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore in October. In her role, she works in the emergency room and in inpatient medicine, seeing patients both as they come into the ER and then through the duration of their stay after they’re admitted.
“I like that continuity of care with this position,” Jacobs says. “I really liked my emergency medicine clinical rotation and I still have a lot to learn, so it wasn’t worth it for me right now to specialize; I still want to fine tune my foundation in medicine first.”
That strategic move has already helped her narrow down what she wants to do in the future. She knows she doesn’t see herself in cardiology, neurology or oncology — “It takes really special people to do jobs like that,” Jacobs says — but she keeps coming back to her roots in Kinesiology.
“My dream has always been to work for a sports team,” she says. “That was another thing that appealed to me about Mercy. They are one of the nation’s top orthopedics hospitals.”
Jacobs, who now sees between eight and 12 patients a day, has gotten into a nice rhythm working alongside her attending physician and other PA colleagues since she started at Mercy. “I feel very comfortable where I am,” Jacobs says. “It’s very easy to get discouraged and think you’re not good enough to be a PA, but I always remember the end goal of being the best provider and person that I can be.”