James Madison University

Alumni Highlight - Jodee Gulaskey

BS Kinesiology: Exercise Science, Class of 2009

The highlight of my JMU Kinesiology experience – Ireland

PHOTO: Jodee Gulaskey

The summer of 2008, I had the privilege to be a part of a voyage study abroad program for the KIN department. Dr. Slattery took a small group of students to Dublin, Ireland to complete two different required exercise science courses, to study childhood obesity rates, and to experience the Irish culture. The experience was once in a lifetime. The friendships created during this time will last forever because of the bond and experiences we all shared.

My internship – Hess Orthopedics

As most of you know, to earn your kinesiology degree it is required to complete an eight week capstone internship that would utilize the skills learned during your undergrad work. I will be the first to admit that when I first changed my major to exercise science, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. I knew I had an interest in exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I also had the desire to help people by making a difference in their lives. Around the beginning of my senior year, I researched options for my post graduate plans. Being that the economy was doing so poorly, I knew that it might be wise to continue on with higher education. That’s when I stumbled upon the physician assistant (PA) profession. To fulfill requirements to apply, and hopefully be accepted to a PA program, most schools wanted at least shadowing experience of a practicing PAs. That’s when the light bulb went on; I could kill two birds with one stone by fulfilling my undergrad and grad school requirements by doing an internship with a PA. Immediately, I thought of orthopedics since it has a major sports medicine component and could easily be linked to exercise science.  I started researching local orthopedic offices searching for one that had a PA. I was lucky and found Hess Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

During the last 8 weeks of my time at JMU, I got to spend it working closely with Justin Nolen PA-C who was employed by Hess Orthopedics. Justin was and still is an amazing mentor. He let me interact with the patients, teach them stretching techniques, give them fitness advice, and even taught me about the practice of orthopedics. Since Justin knew that I was going onto PA school (I was accepted to a school while working with him), he taught me about the PA profession and even let me try a few practice dictations. The staff at Hess Orthopedics was just as wonderful and even more welcoming. I enjoyed my time so much with this office, that I went back and completed a six week clinical rotation during PA school. I have made great friends with these individuals and am proud to call them colleagues today.

My Career Today – Physician Assistant

After JMU, I attended NOVA Southeastern University located in Ft. Myers, FL. I successfully completed and graduated the PA program August 28th, 2011. Soon after graduation I passed my boards and became a physician assistant – certified (PA-C). Today I am practice medicine at a walk in clinic affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Whether it’s advising patients about safe exercise habits, explaining the importance of physical activity for the treatment and management of Type II Diabetes, or even helping a patient with simple at home exercises to help with rehabilitation of a joint; I use my kinesiology degree daily.  JMU and the Kinesiology program provided me with the solid foundations to give me a successful career today.