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Hadley Warner Pursues a Physician Assistant Career to Better Connect with Patients

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Spending time in Patagonia and other remote parts of the world left Hadley Warner wanting to know more about wilderness medicine.

While receiving her EMT and wilderness certifications from the National Outdoor Leadership School, Warner wanted to dig deeper into the how and why of the human body. Her pursuit of more information led her to UVM’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.

“When I earned my EMT and wilderness certifications, I realized I loved teaching medicine and learning about it,” she says. “I kept asking for more information from my teachers because the experience sparked me wanting to know more.”

Warner, who studied political science and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, enrolled in the Physician Assistant Track in UVM’s Post-Bacc Premedical program to help her complete the science prerequisites needed for PA school.

“I was looking for a post-bac program that was well established and had the science requirements I needed,” she says. “I didn’t just want to take online classes. I wanted that intensive PA track to prepare me.”

Warner completed UVM’s Post-Bacc Premed program in June 2018 and enrolled in the University of New England’s two-year physician assistant program in May.

“Now that I’m in PA school, I realize how much UVM prepared me,” she says. “The rigor of the program and the amount of science you have to understand was overwhelming at the time. But now I understand my anatomy and microbiology classes in PA school so much more because of UVM. The Post-Bacc program provided me with a good foundation.”

UVM’s Post-Bacc Premed Program: A Path Toward Medicine

Warner grew up in Bridport, Vermont, and started her undergraduate career with hopes of becoming a veterinarian. But the science classes that were required for a pre-vet major seemed daunting at the time. After graduating from Virginia, Warner was interested in humanitarian aid and working in remote regions of the globe. That’s when she found the Wyoming-based National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), where she spent six years working around the world.

During her time at NOLS, she learned about leadership, teamwork, group management, and conflict resolution. After deciding she wanted to teach for NOLS, the organization accepted her on a one-month intensive instructor training course in the Southwest.

The NOLS program is based on wilderness skills, mountaineering, backpacking, and developing interpersonal skills. She eventually became a field instructor and led trips in  Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona, the Adirondacks, and New Zealand.

“It was a great way to bring me toward medicine,” she says.

Eventually, Warner decided she wanted to go back to school to pursue a career in medicine. After being accepted to the UVM post-bac program, she soon realized the University’s physician assistant two-year track was a good fit.

“It’s obviously not as in-depth as med school. We don’t come away as doctors, but we get a lot of the same information,” she says. “It’s also a little more intense because you cover a lot of material in such a short amount of time. I knew two years at UVM and two more years at the University of New England was an ideal timeframe because I want to get out there and work.”

Before heading to Maine, Warner worked as a medical assistant and scribe at Evergreen Family Health in Williston and as an EMT for Essex Rescue. When she completes PA school in May 2021, Warner sees herself working in a rural primary care setting.

“After growing up in Vermont and living in Wyoming, I’ve seen the need for doctors and PAs. You get to do more hands-on care with patients in rural settings because there are not as many specialty teams,” she says. “And it’s an opportunity to do more relationship building with patients as you help them work on diet, exercise, and lifestyle. I don’t want to be sitting behind a desk or working in a lab. Working directly with patients is what drew me to medicine in the first place.”


Learn about UVM’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program