I am Lieutenant Joelle Annandono. I am a Navy physician assistant. I always knew I would be in the military, and the Navy seemed to fit the best for me. I actually had a really good recruiter. When I tested he said, “you should be a corpsman.” On my second tour as a corpsman I worked for a physician assistant. And when I worked with him, I knew that that was what I was going to do. We evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in a variety of, of clinical settings. When somebody gets hurt, even if it’s not in combat, I go to the hospital and I talk to the family and I talk to the hospital and I advocate for the patient. I’m medical support for the SEALS out in Coronado. I really supervise a sports medicine athletic trainer rehab clinic for those SEALS and – and SWCCs that – that are injured on the job. If a SEAL team does deploy, we generally send a physician assistant. There’s not very many PAs that actually deploy with the SEAL teams. I am very, very proud to wear my Iraqi Campaign Ribbon and have my FMF Warfare Qualification. I deployed with one MEF, which is First Marine Expeditionary Force, to Iraq with a surgical shock trauma platoon and a field resuscitative surgical suite. Basically it’s a mobile operating room and a mobile ER. Absolutely the most rewarding experience, winning the hearts and the minds of people and doing the things that make a difference in the world. You might be taking care of a soldier one minute; an Iraqi boy next. When I worked at the Naval Medical Center San Diego in primary care, my clinic days would start around – about 7:15 in the morning. My patient – my last patient of the day would be around 3:15 or 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s like working at a civilian sector hospital or a civilian sector clinic. I have been affected so greatly by the Navy. I am self aware. I know what my weaknesses are and I know what my strengths are. I am so lucky to have the Navy. It’s made me a strong person. It’s shown me the world and culture and diversity in people. I’ve had great mentors in the Navy and people that helped guide me in my personal life and in my professional life. And it’s helped me to be where I am today. We have an orthopedic residency program at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. They usually accept two to three applicants per year and that gives you a year of very intense orthopedic residency. I get all my pay and all I have to do is pay them back two years after I’m done with the one. It’s a really good tradeoff. PAs have to maintain their certification every two years, those continuing medical education credits are paid for by the Navy. The Navy sponsors me to go to the AAPA Conference – that’s our national conference – every year. Even if I was stationed overseas, the Navy would still pay for me to get my CMEs so I could maintain my certification. Certification is mandatory for you to practice medicine, whether it be in the Navy or in the civilian sector. It will also pay for my recertification exam. That’s what we do to keep our PAs up to standards. And the opportunities that are available to grow as a person and as a sailor and as a Naval officer and as a physician assistant are unrivaled anywhere else. For those physician assistants considering joining the Navy after they’ve completed their program and are already practicing as physician assistants, the Navy has a loan repayment program. Within a couple of years of finishing PA school and becoming a PA in the civilian sector, there are still loans to repay so the Navy has loan repayment programs. The Navy has been very rich with opportunity and enabled me to really develop myself and helped me become the sailor I am, the woman that I am, the person that I am. It’s been very, very good to me. I am Lieutenant Joelle Annandono. I am a Navy physician assistant.