To Advocate for Patient Health, You Must First ‘Really Listen’

Tara Milligan, PA-CTara Milligan, PA-C, wanted to become a Certified PA to help empower patients to make a difference in their own health care.

Milligan serves as an assistant clinical professor at Mississippi State University – Meridian, but in her free time, she volunteers at the free clinic in her Mississippi town, providing care for people who are uninsured. 

“I love volunteering at the free clinic because it helps keep many people healthy who otherwise would not receive care,” Milligan said. “Every patient I see, I have to be an advocate for them. Certified PAs are especially understanding and are taught to really listen to the patient’s complaints.”  

According to Milligan, this understanding stems from PA education, which she feels allows future Certified PAs to develop especially sharp skills in patient communication.

“Certified PAs are the great communicators of the health care world and are able to explain diseases, treatment and prognosis to patients in terms that they can understand and appreciate,” Milligan said. “I wanted to become a Certified PA to help people understand how their body works and how disease processes work.”

Milligan encourages anyone interested in pursuing a career as a Certified PA to shadow a practicing health care provider. This process can provide a wealth of knowledge about the medical field, which can be daunting at times. Therefore, shadowing a provider can help someone find out if being a Certified PA is an appropriate fit for their career goals.

“It is extremely rewarding to be able to empower someone to understand how the health system works and help them to achieve their dream of going to school and becoming a Certified PA,” Milligan said.

If you would like to explore a career as a Certified PA, please visit to learn more.