Marisa Speer: A health care path that led to being a physician assistant
Marisa Speer’s decades-long health care experiences have been all-important building blocks for her new career as a physician assistant.
From a certified pharmacy technician researching conflicts between drugs to a medical scribe for an emergency department at a local hospital and more recently working in a student-run clinic where she educated patients about chronic conditions, Speer has a deep and well-rounded background in health care.
“I liked being in positions where I could see different sides of care,” says Speer, who joined Western Sierra Medical Clinic in November 2020. “Each one of those experiences helped me prepare to become a physician assistant and led me down this path.”
It’s been a path that has required dedication and hard work, with thousands of hours between the classroom and hands-on training with providers and treating patients.
Speer earned a Master of Health Services in Physician Assistant Studies from University of California, Davis, in September 2020. The two-year program combines classes and on-site training at health care providers throughout the Sacramento region. In fact, some UC Davis physician assistant students train at Western Sierra.
“It was very important for me to have one-on-one, side-by-side training,” says Speer, whose clinical experience with the program included primary care-internal medicine, emergency medicine, cardiovascular, and women’s health/obstetrics and gynecology. “The program gave me a lot of exposure with patients with different health care needs.”
Now, Speer provides her experience, knowledge and passion to patients at Western Sierra’s Professional Drive center in Auburn.
“I truly am here because I care,” says Speer, who works closely with other primary-care providers at Western Sierra. “I want patients to know that I want to help. And I always make an effort to listen.”
Her compassion directed Speer to health care. She grew up in Porterville – a city about 75 miles southeast of Fresno in the Central Valley – where many families struggle with the most basic of needs.
“I had family members and friends who didn’t have access to health care,” Speer says. “Quite frankly, access to medical care is lacking in many parts of California.”
So, Speer was attracted to Western Sierra’s long-standing commitment and mission to providing access to quality health care for all residents in the region, regardless of their income or insurance.
Health care is “more important than ever,” says Speer, citing the Covid pandemic that has affected some patients. “People are going through a lot of changes.”
And Speer wants to make sure those changes are addressed, from dealing with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, to families faced with the loss of loved ones.
“I want to figure out how I can help patients,” says Speer, who has an identical twin sister entering health care.
Away from work, Speer and her husband moved from Sacramento and are enjoying their new home in the Auburn area, from discovering downtown businesses to hitting nearby hiking trails.
“We’ve always enjoyed being in Auburn and we want to be here,” says Speer, who likes to hike, kayak and take Spin bike classes. “Auburn has always been a peaceful getaway. You can go outside, go for a walk and you’re in nature.”