Radford health sciences grad plans to use her degree for career versatility

Abigail Ray ’23 (right) with Thomas Castor, Ph.D., at her May 2023 graduation ceremony.

Abigail Ray ’23 always knew she wanted to work in a medical field, but she was also interested in a versatile  career that would allow her to explore the many specialties that healthcare offers.

As she considered her undergraduate options, she looked for a program that would help her build basic skills and gain practical, hands-on experience, as well as open her eyes to possible graduate studies and career paths. Enter the Bachelor of Science in health sciences at Radford University at Carilion in Roanoke.

“Until about my junior year in the health sciences program, I wasn’t sure which direction I would go in,” Ray said. “That was when I realized that becoming a physician assistant is what I wanted to do. I want to play an integral role in diagnosing patients, collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals, and developing treatment plans for my future patients.”

In the health sciences program, Ray gained the experience and perspective she needed to figure out her career trajectory, even as she was acquiring the foundational skills that would allow her to move to the next level of her education. She was recently accepted into a highly competitive physician assistant (PA) program at another college.

“I quickly learned that every assignment was developed in a way that helped me problem-solve and then apply those solutions to health-related issues,” Ray recalled. “The medical field requires good problem-solving skills and the ability to think quickly. I was able to strengthen my abilities during my time in the program at Radford."

Ray used those skills throughout the rigorous process of applying to and interviewing for the PA program she was accepted into. She will begin that program in May and is excited for the chance to further expand her knowledge and career opportunities.

“As a PA, I do not have to declare a specialty to work in for the rest of my career,” Ray said. “Instead, I can go through my clinicals in my graduate program and find what specialty is best suited for me and pursue my career in that certain specialty. I can work in as many specialties during my career as I choose.”

One of Ray’s professors in the health sciences program, Thomas Castor, said that while he is thrilled that Ray has been accepted into her PA program, he’s not surprised by her success.

“From the day we met to discuss our undergraduate program and her professional goals,” Castor remembered, “I knew she would achieve great things in her education and her career. She had a dream in mind and worked tirelessly with her academic advisor to achieve it. I’m glad to hear that our health sciences program helped her get there.”

Ray said the health sciences program at Radford allowed her to flourish and become a more well-rounded student. Her advice to students who follow her path is to “listen to the advice your academic advisor gives you, study hard and keep polishing your skills because everyone in the program wants you to succeed and thrive. Never settle when it comes to achieving your goals, and don’t give up until your goals have been accomplished.”

Feb 14, 2024
Mark Lambert