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Due to Exceptional Medical Care, MSPA Student Christian Roy Is Thriving Today—and Now He Is Paying It Forward

When Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) student Christian Roy and his twin brother were born three months premature, doctors feared they would not make it. Both babies had to be intubated, as they were not breathing independently.

Roy weighed only three pounds, while his brother weighed two pounds. They stayed in hospitals for six months until they could breathe independently and weighed enough to be discharged.

Thanks to both boys’ exceptional care in the hospital, they thrive today.

“We went from being small enough to hold in the palm of your hand to being the tallest in our family,” Roy, MSPA ’24, said. 

While Roy was too young to remember the experience, he often heard his family recounting the story when he was growing up. He also had direct experience with healthcare staff, making many follow-up trips to the hospital as a young child.

“Everyone was so friendly,” Roy said. “Overall, the genuine compassion that the healthcare workers showed towards my family—especially when my mom was dealing with potentially losing her twins—and my frequent exposure to physicians and nurses at an early age—started directing me towards healthcare.”

He grew up playing sports and initially wanted to be a physical therapist, majoring in kinesiology.

“Eventually, I realized something more was calling me,” Roy said. “I learned about the PA profession, which redirected my path toward medicine.”

KGI immediately stood out among all the schools when he started interviewing for different PA programs.

“During my interview day, it didn’t feel like an interview,” Roy said. “It honestly felt like I was meeting colleagues.”

As he nears completion of his first year in KGI’s inaugural MSPA program, the experience has exceeded his expectations. Roy said, 

“I feel like KGI has meticulously thought out everything—not only in terms of our time during the program but also what our careers will look like afterward.” 

“It’s compelled us to consider questions like, ‘What are we passionate about? Why are we choosing a particular field? Does our chosen career have longevity?'”

One class that has stood out is Clinical and Diagnostic Skills.

“We’re getting to do a lot of hands-on stuff now, which is my favorite part because I’m such a kinesthetic learner,” Roy said. “Recently, we learned to suture. It’s cool putting the stuff that we’re learning into practice.”

He feels that each professor has had an impact uniquely and appreciates how they have invested their time and energy into helping their students excel. 

“They make me feel like I’m not just a student but a mentee,” Roy said. 

Recently, he had what he describes as a “profound moment” with Dr. Jason Laird, MSPA Director of Clinical Education and Professor of Practice.

“We were talking about where I saw my future,” Roy said. “I told him what areas I thought I needed to work on. He gave me a confused look and said, ‘I think those are the strongest things about you.’ Having someone like Dr. Laird–a massive leader in the field who made some major innovations in robotic surgery—say something like that felt validating. I think that speaks to the strengths of all our faculty and how much they’re invested in us.”

Likewise, Laird has enjoyed working with Roy.

“Christian brings a natural introspection, combined with a genuine interest in others, that ensures he will be a terrific PA!” Laird said. “No matter what is happening in class, Christian can be counted on to provide a demeanor that elevates the mood of those around him. He is a kind, dedicated student who can succeed through challenging times, which is inspiring. He holds himself to very high standards, but it seems he balances this with a great ability to make plans after tests!”

Regarding his long-term goals, Roy sees himself pursuing orthopedics or neurosurgery. He is also interested in leadership and advocacy at the national level.

“I’ve learned that there hasn’t been the best advocacy in the last couple of decades for the PA profession,” Roy said. 

Much of the general public still needs to become familiar with PAs.

“Also, healthcare providers don’t always know the full extent of what a PA license can do,” Roy said. Providing a clearer vision of the PA profession to the public would help mitigate a lot of misinformation. That inspires me—considering what I can bring to the table and what I can do to push the profession forward in a more progressive, unified way.”

For now, Roy is making the most of his time at KGI.

“I enjoy being at KGI and the environment they’ve created for us as future professionals,” Roy said. “I see this as a pivotal point in my journey that I will always look back on with fond memories.”