From Physician Assistant to Farmer-Florist and Entrepreneur: My Journey

From Physician Assistant to Farmer-Florist and Entrepreneur: My Journey

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My name is Allison Keitz. I am an entrepreneur, mother, wife, and I have a Master's degree in physician assistant studies. This blog post is about my career journey from physician assistant to a farmer-florist. I struggled for years trying figure things out with my career and it's simple: being a physician assistant just wasn't the best fit for me. It's tough because I worked so hard for my degree. It's like throwing away a part of your life you thought you would have forever. I hope this helps people who also struggle with their careers, and change is possible.

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I went to Daemen University for about five and a half years. This was very intense schooling, but the reward was to be a physician assistant. The mindset for me was work hard now, and once you're working, everything will be good. You'll make good money, help sick people, and have time for family. 

After working in a few different settings over the years, I realized the grass is not greener on the other side or with a new job. Each job that I had was taxing to me in different ways. There were many sleepless nights, "the Sunday blues", breakdowns, hours of unpaid time spent on phone calls, doing documentation, and reviewing charts that could have been spent with family, friends, and doing hobbies. I felt like I was chained to work, and I thought and worried about work constantly. I was worried about making a mistake or falling behind schedule. It's important to note that you have about 10-15 minutes with each patient. Your schedule is full, and sometimes there are add ons. Each person has different needs and conditions. Someone might have 10 complaints that will throw you behind your day a bit. When it's time for lunch, you spend it catching up on charts, and then it is time to start the second half of the day. A manager told me once, "Medicine is not a 9 - 5 job, honey." after I said I wanted to go home on time more often. This is, my friends, what causes burn-out.

In addition, after changing specialties in medicine, you must become an expert in that field. Each time I changed, I had to start over and learn new topics which had its own set of challenges. At one position, I was constantly quizzed, and I felt like I was walking on egg shells if I did not perform to perfection. I remember on my first day, I answered a question incorrectly in front of doctors and residents, and I felt very embarrassed and even ashamed. I always felt the pressure of needing to be perfect, and in my mind I needed to know every topic which simply was not possible being newer in each specialty. I never gave myself enough slack. If I did a good job, I was always thinking well what if you missed that or didn't make the optimal choice for the patient, etc. I was given compliments that I always listened to people, and patients were appreciative, but I felt something was missing still in my career life. 

I had to really dig deep and think. I thought why can't I just like my jobs? Can't I just deal with it and be fine? What's the problem here? I like people, and I can talk to new patients all day, but this is exhausting. After work one day, I came home with a cello rental because I was searching for something to make me happy. A cello rental! 

I don't think I truly knew what being a PA involved when I was 17. There is alot of autonomy, and you really have patient's lives in your hands. It's high pressure in certain settings. This just does not match well with me. I have so much respect for medical professionals out there after I have worked in the field for seven years. 

I became a mental mess and my husband setting me straight was the turning point. After spending many hours charting, I broke down from the frustration of having so many charts to do. I also had a young baby at the time so I wasn't getting much sleep. My husband said to me, "You can quit, or you can stay. What do you want? I can't see you like this anymore.". At that point, I was a shell of myself, so I quit.  

I asked some of my colleagues about their feelings in the field, and I found that I was not the only one who did not feel passionate or excited to go to work. Most would say, "It pays the bills." 

During the last few years, I would escape from the stress and dread by being outside and gardening. This love grew over the years..as did my gardens. I could make arrangements that people loved, and I felt it was something I was naturally good at. I was alone in the gardens but I didn't feel alone like I did at some of my jobs. I could spend hours in the gardens just being away from everything and not realize the time. I felt peace when working with flowers compared to constant stress in the offices. 

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B's Flowers was born. I went down to the town courthouse and created my business! The name came from my son, Brian. I wanted the name to have meaningful to me so that I wouldn't give up on my business if things got tough. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with flowers exactly, but I made the choice that it was time for a change in my life. 

Of course there are and will be people who never understand why I would go from a PA to a farmer-florist. But they aren't me, and they have no idea what experiences I've had that led me to my choice.

When I am old, I can rest knowing that I gave my business a go, and I got to do what I loved for a little while.

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Well, I hope that B's Flowers is here to stay, and I am much happier now. There are bumps in the road as I navigate learning about business and the ins and outs of the floral industry, but if I can learn how to push bones back into place or how to stitch up a laceration, I'm confident that I can do this. Another job change - hopefully my last one - to something I am truly passionate about. 

"Leaving a stable job to start a business out of your basement with no money in the bank. Many of us look at these decisions and say, "That's stupid, you're crazy. You could lose everything. You could get yourself killed. What are you thinking?" It is not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, our hearts and our guts, that drive us to try new things." Start With Why by Simon Sinek

I hope this blog post can give people out there encouragement that they can make change happen. I can't thank my husband enough for pushing me out of my comfort zone when I needed it most.

Photos by Erin Townshend Photography

- Allie  

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