How I got this job: Valentina Djordjevic Physician Assistant

During Spring Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alum, Valentina Djordjevic (Health Sciences, ‘16). After completing the Physician Assistant (PA) program at Rosalind Franklin University, she is now a PA-C at Able Psychiatry. Valentina shared her story of gaining research, work, volunteer, and clinical experiences while at DePaul, deciding to pursue a career as a PA, her current job responsibilities, and her future career goals. In this event, Valentina highlighted what being a PA means to her and the importance of pursuing your passions.

Words of wisdom from Valentina Djordjevic

Valentina on deciding to become a PA:

“For me it was pretty easy to be a PA because it was quick. Two years seemed pretty doable for me. It offered me the opportunity to work in multiple specialties which I liked at that time because I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to be in psychiatry. The GRE also seemed more doable than the MCAT for me. I also liked that there wasn’t a residency requirement for PA school. I really liked that I could get this degree and then start working right away. I wanted to stay in the sciences. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be financially independent and be able to have a good income. I think it was a pretty easy decision for me to go into the PA track.” 

Valentina on the importance of mentoring for a PA:

“A piece of advice about post-PA school is that you really want to find a job where you will be taught. There are a ton of opportunities for PAs out there, and they seem really appealing. They’re going to throw a lot of money at you, and just be careful that they don’t throw you out to the wolves because PA school is really fast. You’re getting this degree with the hope that you’ll be trained really well at your first job, but if you aren’t, you’re gonna have a huge stunt in your growth. It’s really important to have a mentor: someone that you can ask questions to, someone that is expecting you to not know what you’re doing. If it’s a good growth opportunity, that might be better than a more appealing pay stub at the end of the day because if you get good training, you can go anywhere.”

Meet Peter Wild Crea, Rehabilitation Aide at Athletico

The Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community wants to introduce students to a wide range of careers from popular clinical roles (e.g., nurse, physician, veterinarian) to jobs like healthcare data analytics, health administration, or biotech research.  

Today, we want to highlight a fantastic job seen on the resumes of numerous DePaul students: Rehabilitation Assistant or Aide at Athletico. In a recent virtual interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) met with Peter Wild Crea (DePaul ‘22, Health Sciences) to discuss his educational experiences, career journey, and insights for students interested in clinical health professions. 

As a current pre-med student at DePaul, Peter’s passion for health and patient care allowed him to explore many opportunities on and off campus. Shadowing a physical therapist at Athletico led to a job as a Rehabilitation Aide in which Peter has a wide range of responsibilities, including patient support, sanitation, and administrative work. Through this role, Peter builds close relationships with patients, learns about the human body and healthcare systems, and gains valuable clinical experience. Additionally, Peter continues to create opportunities for himself and develop his skills as a Peer Health Educator and student organization leader in order to prepare for a future in medical school.

A valuable token of advice from Peter for fellow students: “Lead with your passion, but also allow your passions to change.”

Check out the full video below to learn more!

Check out employment opportunities at Athletico here.

Interested in Nursing? Here’s What You Need to Know

By: Nina Pelsi, DePaul University health sciences major ’19

Like most college freshmen, I initially struggled to definitively decide which career I wanted to pursue for the next few years. I think it’s important to start generating ideas based on which subjects or fields you’re most passionate about and interested in. For me, I knew I wanted to enter a career in a scientific field and always thought a hospital setting would fit my interests well. Knowing this, I decided to contact professionals from various roles in healthcare and medicine to get more information on the pros and cons of working in the industry and the type of job responsibilities I may encounter. One of my most informative and eye-opening interviews was with Certified Nursing Specialist (CNS) Alex Johnson who works in the critical care unit at Central DuPage Hospital. If you, too, find yourself exploring a career in nursing, here’s what you need to know. 

Nina: What do you like about the setting in which you work and why did you choose to work in a hospital setting?

Alex: I was initially drawn to nursing because the career was so dynamic. To me, the profession blended both science and humanity, and I believed it could help me grow not only as a professional, but as a person. When I discovered the challenge of critical care, I was hooked. To the patient and their family on that particular day, it is often the worst day of their lives, and I learned about my responsibility to protect the sanctity of life and to provide dignity in death. I aspired to be that nurse that not only exceeded as a clinician, but also as a compassionate caregiver to hopefully demonstrate to that patient and family that someone would be there to alleviate the pain and suffering of their darkest day just a little bit. What I learned is that often times it means more than just a little bit to them, it means the world to them. The “gift” that the patient and family give in return can be priceless. They never forget you. To me it makes nursing the best career in the world.

Nina: What are a few things that you like and dislike about your profession?

Alex: I like it for many of the reasons mentioned above. I also like critical care for the advancements and the technology. I like how newer research and science constantly challenges us to improve the care we give. I like how there is always something to learn.

However, the same things that you like can be the very things that lead to the things you do not like. The drawbacks can be the long hours and the stress of the fast-paced environment. Learning new things and advancing your practice can be stressful. Nurses are constantly asked to do more and more with each passing year. Expectations continue to rise, and the charting gets increasingly more labor-intensive. “Moral distress” is also much talked-about in the literature. Some articles call it, “compassion fatigue.” A nurse really must maintain a sense of perspective and work-life balance in order to avoid burnout.

Nina: What should someone know before they start on the path to becoming a nurse?

Alex: There are days when it will feel like the hardest job in the world, and there will be days that feel like you have the best job in the world (sometimes it can be both in the same day). Some of my work experiences I will never forget for the rest of my life. I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth both as a person and as a professional. If you are up to that challenge, then it may be the path for you.


Are you interested in connecting with a professional in the healthcare industry? One way to get insider perspectives on an industry that interests you is by searching for a DePaul ASK mentor on Handshake! ASK mentors are here to provide information about what it’s like to work in the role or industry that excites you.