Firmly Entrenched at Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program

Education gets Brandon Lim closer to patient-centered care

With every step Brandon Lim takes, he’s getting closer to his dream job of working in a patient-centered role.

Step 1: Working as a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Senior Care Pharmacy Services, delivering medications to long-term care facilities.

Step 2: Physical therapy aide in sports medicine at UCSF Race Medical Team.

Step 3: Bronchoscopy technician at UCSF Medical Center’s various departments, including the ICU and the OR.

Step 4: Accepted into our Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program.

Step 5: Admitted to Northwestern University’s Physician Assistant Program!


After testing out various medical positions during his career, Brandon is sure that work as a physician assistant meets his career aspirations.

“One of the hallmarks of the P.A. profession is working in a team-based model,” Brandon says. “I work well independently, but I do my best work when I am part of a team. I chose to become a P.A. to gain the foundational knowledge in the medical model of diagnosis and treatment to provide patient-centered care in a way that is meaningful to me. In addition, P.A.s have great work-life balance and the flexibility to work in so many interesting medical specialties, which I value for the possibilities and opportunity for lifelong learning. Finally, from my health care experience, P.A.s spend more time directly caring for patients.”

But before Brandon could get to step 5 of his career arc, he knew he needed further education to improve his GPA and fulfill needed prerequisites for graduate school admissions.



I felt the guidance provided by my adviser—in terms of crafting my personal statement and interview guidance—was invaluable.



Courses and So Much More

Brandon received his Bachelor’s in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior from the University of California, Davis, which meant that he didn’t need to take many more upper-level science courses to apply to the Northwestern P.A. program. But what did attract his eye was the added benefits of applying for the Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program.

“I felt the guidance provided by my adviser—in terms of crafting my personal statement and interview guidance—was invaluable,” Brandon recalls. “The committee letter of recommendation was appealing and I felt it held weight in my graduate-school application because it was a collective, well-written letter.”

Over the course of three years, Brandon steadfastly completed his courses while working full time. Attracted to the high academic standards and expectations of a Berkeley-quality course—which Brandon initially found intimidating—he soon was put at ease with the supportive nature our students, instructors and staff provide.

“My fellow students all had different backgrounds and experiences, and it was great connecting with them and learning from each other,” Brandon says. “The instructors that I had were great because they were very responsive with questions. The staff was always very professional and helpful when I needed help, such as sending transcripts to graduate schools.”

Of his many instructors, Brandon points to Dr. Em Segmen as making an impact on his educational journey in the Human Anatomy Laboratory course. Dr. Segmen’s open and informative communication style made Brandon feel like she cared about his education “because she shared clinical pearls and stories, as well as informed us about additional learning opportunities such as the cadaver lab.”



If I can do it, so can you!



Gearing Up for P.A. School

Because there is a six-year gap between completing his bachelor’s degree and entering P.A. school, Brandon wanted to prove to an admissions committee—as well as himself—that he is prepared and able to succeed with a rigorous academic workload.

And he proved that to be so with flying colors, as he was recently accepted into the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program!

So enthused with this next step in his medical career, it’s best to hear about his experience thus far in P.A. school straight from him:

“This program is unique in that the curriculum incorporates problem-based learning and organ-based learning. This means that we learn about one organ system at a time and all of our courses—for example, our medicine and pharmacy courses—will revolve around that system. So the learning is correlated: While I learn about the physiology and anatomy of the heart, I will also be learning about heart medications.

“A typical week consists of a mix of classroom learning in a lecture-based format, as well as in a small-group discussion format where my classmates and I discuss and work through various patient cases.”

Looking back on his time with Extension, Brandon has this advice to impart for those who are about to make the same educational journey:

“I recommend this program for three reasons:

1. UC Berkeley has a great reputation and most prerequisite coursework required for graduate admissions is available.

2. The flexibility of the course schedules is great. Night classes are available for those who work full time during the day. The courses are three hours long and meet once or twice a week, which cuts down on commute time.

3. The students and instructors are supportive, and my adviser was especially helpful with crafting my personal statement, mock interviews and career guidance.

“If I can do it, so can you!”

Congratulations, Brandon, on your continued success—we can’t wait to see what Step 6 brings to you!

Brandon’s Courses to Fulfill Prereqs