Meet our alumni: Jenny Clauss '13, PA

Yale University Physician Assistant Program- Class of 2015

SLU Class of 2013  

Major: Neuroscience

Activities at SLU: TA for General Biology and Human Physiology; worked for SLU EMS; conducted a SLU Summer Research Fellowship with Dr. Kari Heckman; studied abroad for the Neuroscience of Fear summer course in Copenhagen, Denmark.


What SLU experience has helped you be successful in your professional program and/or current job?

Many of my SLU experiences helped me to be successful in both PA school and my career. Part of my PA training involved a Masters Thesis, in which I proposed a clinical trial and wrote a complete research proposal including background literature review, proposed methods, and IRB consent form. I was fortunate enough to have a lot of experience writing thesis proposals, as well as performing research itself, during my time at SLU. Working for SLU EMS helped me to learn how to interact with patients. Working as a TA helped me to learn how to communicate complicated physiology in understandable terms, which has been extremely helpful in explaining cancer physiology and chemotherapy to my patients.


What course(s) did you find most helpful in preparation for professional school academics? 

If there is one course that probably helped me the most in professional school and my career, it was probably Physiology, with Cross-Cultural Healing as a close second. Cross-Cultural Healing helped me to understand how and why different people feel differently about the healthcare system so that I can best treat them in the manner in which they want to be treated. However, it's hard to say which classes were most helpful, because the course material will come in professional school; the more important things I learned at SLU were how to think and how to communicate, which happened in all of my classes.


Any unique experiences?

One of the best things that Smilow Cancer Center does is a charity bike ride called Closer to Free. In 2019, 2155 people signed up, raised $3.7 million, and rode between 10 and 100 miles around Connecticut to raise both money and awareness for the cancer center. The beginning of the course goes by the entrance to the cancer hospital and we will make signs and bring our patients down to watch the riders go by and cheer them on. I love working on this day because inpatient cancer patients can often lose hope, and this is a beautiful reminder that they are loved and supported by our community. One year, I was outside cheering and the son of a former patient rode by (his father had passed away on our floor about 8 months prior). He saw our team and quickly jumped off his bike and came over to hug us and thank us for caring for his father. It was a nice reminder to our staff that even if a patient passes away (which happens fairly frequently in inpatient oncology), we still have the ability to make a significant difference in their lives and their families lives, which is a enormous privilege.