Physician Assistant Karen Walker embraces a second career with a commitment to providing quality care
A caring health provider who connects with patients and keeps up with the latest medical news can make a huge – and sometimes even life-changing – difference.
Just ask Karen Walker. She battled a health issue that was misdiagnosed for years until a physician assistant correctly identified the issue that greatly improved her health – and opened the door to a new career.
“That’s when I first had an interest in being a physician assistant,” says Walker, a Physician Assistant for Western Sierra Medical Clinic. “There’s a huge need for empathetic providers and I want to help fill that gap.”
Walker – born and raised in Grass Valley – was a busy mother, full-time registered dental assistant and loved living out in the country.
“I’ve always wanted to be in medicine, it’s always been my passion,” says Walker, who had worked as a registered dental assistant for 16 years in the community. “I wanted to learn more, know more.”
That determination led her back to school and more than eight years of study and hard work.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Purdue University, graduating Summa Cum Laude, before being accepted into the Physician Assistant Studies Graduate Degree Program at University of California, Davis.
She knew she wanted to start her career at Western Sierra Medical Clinic, in the rural area that she grew up in, where providers are greatly needed. Walker rotated with multiple providers at the clinic during her schooling at UC Davis and felt inspired to join the team.
She has experience in primary care, pediatrics, women’s health, emergency medicine, internal medicine, dermatology and mental health.
“I want to be the type of provider a patient can go to for everything,” says Walker, who adds that keeping up on the latest medical news is just part of her workday. “Research changes daily. We must continue to learn and practice quality, evidence-based medicine.”
But also remain empathetic and listen to patients, she says. Much like a physician assistant did for her years ago.
Away from work, she and her husband have two children – a 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. The family owns a small farm in Dutch Flat with chickens, guinea hens, ducks, goats, lambs, pigs and turkeys. Whenever possible, she enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors, and driving to the coast for ocean fishing.