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Physician Assistant Mackenzie Doughty in her whitecoatFirst-generation college graduate MacKenzie Doughty is just starting her career1, but she’s already accomplished so much. In March 2024, MacKenzie completed the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) program at South University, West Palm Beach. Soon after, she passed the national certifying exam to become a Certified Physician Assistant2 (PA-C). Now, MacKenzie has landed a Postgraduate Emergency Medicine Residency for Physician Assistants within the renowned Johns Hopkins system.

Honing Her Skills in Emergency Medicine
The 18-month program accepts only four students per year. The residency provides a paid opportunity for PAs to acquire additional expertise in emergency medicine. As a PA resident, MacKenzie will work primarily at Johns Hopkins Bayview in Baltimore. This medical center sees almost 60,000 emergency patients annually. It contains a comprehensive stroke center and the state's only adult burn center.

“I chose this residency program because it offers the perfect combination of high acuity, patient volume, diverse population, and procedural experience with the focus on academic teaching,” MacKenzie shares. “I wanted to experience advanced training to be prepared and comfortable for anything that comes in the Emergency Department.”

For most of her residency, MacKenzie will work 12-hour shifts with pediatric and adult patients in the Emergency Department. She will do additional rotations in areas that include the Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, anesthesia, ultrasound, orthopedics, and more. Across these experiences, she will receive hands-on training and work closely with advanced practice providers, PAs, medical fellows, and faculty. The PA residency also features clinical courses, simulation lab time, workshops, conferences, independent study, and a capstone project.

Building a Foundation for Compassionate Care
Before attending South University, MacKenzie graduated from the University of San Diego in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral neuroscience and a minor in biology. She then took a year to gain hands-on patient care experience as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). 

MacKenzie felt drawn to becoming a physician assistant for several reasons. The benefits included a collaborative professional environment and options to work in different specialties. Most importantly, MacKenzie knew being a PA would allow her to help others. “I became a PA to work closely with patients, build deep connections, and make a tangible difference in their lives,” she says.

Despite being far from home, MacKenzie immediately felt welcomed and supported in the Physician Assistant program at our West Palm Beach campus. She did well in her classes and joined Pi Alpha, a national honor society for PA students and graduates. Outside the classroom, she participated in numerous community service activities alongside South University faculty, staff, and other students. 

“South University has pushed me to become not only a better provider but has equipped me with the skills and experience to provide quality and compassionate patient care,” she says. “The faculty and staff go above and beyond to ensure we become successful and competent physician assistants. They work hard each day to make us better clinicians!”

South University is so proud of MacKenzie, and we are excited to see the impact on her patients and her community as a PA!

MacKenzie is one of two 2024 Physician Assistant graduates from South University, West Palm Beach selected for residencies at Johns Hopkins! Stay tuned to our blog to learn about the second graduate.

1South University does not promise or guarantee licensure, employment, or salary amounts.

2 It is up to each student to review the national and state licensure requirements for licensure, as well as the eligibility criteria to sit for licensure exams.  South University cannot guarantee each graduate will pass the required licensure examinations.  Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University. Students must pass the required licensure to work in their respective field.

Testimonials have been provided by students/alumni in their own words and without coercion. This spotlight is based on information shared by MacKenzie Doughty in 2024.