Changing Minds, Changing Lives – A PA’s Career Journey to Fulfillment

Alkiesha Collins

Before she knew much about the PA profession, Alkiesha Collins, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, did not think about it as a career option. In fact, she was already studying for the Medical College Admission Test in hopes of becoming a pediatrician.  

She met a nephrology PA who told her about a career as a PA, but Collins wasn’t sold on the idea until she shadowed her during in-patient and outpatient rounds.  

“It not only changed my mind, but it also changed my life,” said Collins.   

Now a Certified PA in nephrology, Collins’s position includes rotating rounds at seven different hemodialysis units and three different offices throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. She spends her clinic days seeing patients and managing their health conditions associated with chronic kidney disease, teaching classes about the different therapy options for those patients approaching end stage renal disease and continued monitoring of post-transplant patients. Collins also sees patients on hemodialysis. 

While Collins enjoys being a Certified PA, she still faces struggles in her interactions with other health care professionals.  

“Some still do not accurately know who PAs are, the diverse skills we have, and how we are educated and trained,” said Collins. “PAs are unique and valued members of any health care team. We are educated in the medical model and rotate through multiple specialties during our clinical year of PA school.” 

Despite those challenges, Collins finds reward in helping improve the lives of patients and educating individuals about their health. Collins is also passionate about educating other underrepresented minorities about the PA profession. “I am excited to provide them with a positive image of someone that looks like them and inspire them to become a PA just like I did.” 

Collins, a Detroit native, has been a Certified PA for 15 years and has spent 11 years as a nephrology PA. She previously specialized in family medicine and internal medicine. 

“I really enjoy the flexibility to navigate through different specialties during my career.”