How Xavierite, Loryn Heitzmann, Measures Her Success in the Physician Assistant Program at Xavier

How Xavierite, Loryn Heitzmann, Measures Her Success in the Physician Assistant Program at Xavier

Loryn Heitzmann always knew that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine but was unsure about what specialty to choose. During her research, she learned about the Physician Assistant (PA) profession. Heitzmann was drawn to it because of the variety of choices and flexibility to pursue her ultimate life goal of becoming a wife and mother. The Texas native wanted to stay close to home and was ecstatic when she matched with the Xavier University of Louisiana PA program through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants. 

“I came across Xavier’s program and was intrigued by their connection to Oschner because I knew of Oschner’s reputation. It took me two years of applying to get into PA school, and Xavier is the one that accepted me. I knew it would be a good clinical education,” said Heitzmann. 

Xavier University of Louisiana recently expanded its graduate programs to offer a physician assistant master's degree. Through a partnership with Ochsner Health Systems, the program seeks to educate physician assistants who are ethical, compassionate and dedicated to providing superior quality healthcare. This program promotes a more just and humane society by improving the healthcare of diverse communities. 

Heitzmann, who studied at Baylor University for her undergraduate degree, is now a first-year student of the PA program and says attending an HBCU has changed her educational experience.

“Xavier University has given me a leg up in my future because I am learning about the medical field's diversity, equity, and inclusion sectors," said Heitzmann.

The PA program implements social awareness into its curriculum through community outreach initiatives that each cohort must participate in together. Heitzmann recalls working in the Gumbo Garden on campus and through Oschner’s partnership, educating the community on healthcare at children’s camps. 

“New Orleans is a great place to [volunteer] because there are just so many different ways to serve this community and so many different needs,” said Heitzmann.

Working in the community as a class has strengthened the bond between Heitzmann and her cohort. Heitzmann shared that serving the community as a class reinforced the need for teamwork and accountability. Heitzmann emphasized that the relationship between students and faculty is close-knit, especially between students and advisors, who support her academically and personally.

“The program really focuses on making sure that we are successful at the end of this year so that we can pass the national certification,” said Heitzmann. Her favorite part of the program is working with fellow students and the patient assessment course because the hands-on learning labs mimic professional evaluations.

The most memorable experience for Loryn Heitzmann was the impact left by one of the guest lecturers. The speaker shared her experience of treating cases and Heitzmann knew that she wanted to create the same experience for her future patients. “It was just one of those stories that made me go like that’s why medicine is important, that’s why caring for your patients is important. It left a really big impact on me, making me think I can’t wait till I can make an impact on someone’s life like that,” said Heitzmann. 

Xavier’s PA program has instilled skills into their future providers by teaching material they can apply in their careers and life. 

“Above all else, [you need] time management because you can’t work and [attend] PA school, it takes a lot of practice to make sure you take time for yourself and also for family and friends. Communication skills, talking to patients and giving bad news, and being able to be sensitive to different cultures; Those are all important things regardless of whether you are in healthcare or not. Learning those sensitivities and diversities are just so important to regular life,” said Heitzmann.