Master of Medical Science in Anesthesiologist Assistant
Class of 2006
Jay Bodalia is not your average guy. He is the guy who, in 2006, earned the highest score in the country on the NCCAA exam, which is the exam that every student must pass to become a certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (AA). He earned his Master of Medical Science degree from South University’s Anesthesiologist Assistant program and graduated third in his class—with honors of course.
In addition to working full-time at Memorial University Medical Center, specializing in pediatrics, he is a part-time faculty member at South University. Additionally, he serves as a clinical instructor and a facilitator during the applicant interview process, when South University selects only about 14% of the applicants.
So what made Jay decide to enroll in South University’s Anesthesiologist Assistant program? "I was working as a neonatal pediatric respiratory therapist, and after five years I had reached my maximum potential. I had friends who were in AA school, and I saw how much they enjoyed it,” explains Jay. “Deciding to go back to school was difficult though. I wouldn’t be able to work, and the financial impact was a concern. Also, it was intimating to return to school after 5 years. I had heard about Dr. Paulsen [Dean of the College of Health Professions at South University, and the AA Program Director]. His reputation is good but everyone knows that he is tough, and I worried about getting back to good study habits."
What he did know for certain is that he enjoys what he describes as “the challenge of working with kids because they have a different physiology, and I like a challenge.” He developed strong communication skills when working with very young patients because it really meant communicating with very concerned parents. He learned how to put them at ease, at a time when they are understandably anxious.
Jay enjoys the variety of different cases he sees, working at Memorial University Medical Center. That variety sometimes even includes working on his colleagues family members. Jay was requested by name when a South University faculty member’s son needed surgery. “I had only been out of school for one year,” says Jay with a smile. “I knew I could do it, it was just that I had never been asked for by name. It meant a lot to me.”
And when the tables turned and Jay’s wife needed emergency surgery, he asked fellow South University alumnus, Allison Bre Peake, to be the AA on the surgical team. He called her at home; she said “yes” and rushed to hospital.
“Going to South University and becoming an AA is competitive but worth it,” explains Jay. “The program prepared me well, and I have confidence in my classmates, my students, and myself.”