Ifedayo Akinyemi, PAS ‘24 will use the Susan and Tom Lusty Memorial Scholarship from the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants to support his studies

Helping people and providing high-quality patient-centered care has always been important to Master of Physician Assistant Studies Ifedayo Akinyemi.

But it was when he nearly lost a finger as a teen that his passion for becoming a PA was ignited. When he was at the hospital being stitched up, it was a PA doing so. 

Now, he will use the Susan and Tom Lusty Memorial Scholarship from the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants to support his educational pursuits and his goals of becoming a PA in the surgery subspecialty.

“I was not surprised to hear of Ifedayo being awarded this prestigious scholarship,” said Joshua Merson, Chair of the Physician Assistant Studies program. “He has been a dedicated member of the IHP PA Community since Day 1.  His passion for learning and dedication to patient care will certainly translate into exceptional patient outcomes both in and out of his future career in surgery.”

While Akinyemi has always been interested in healthcare, his path to a career in healthcare wasn’t always as clear.  

Growing up in Rockland County, NY, Akinyemi excelled in his coursework. As a child, his aunt, Dr. Foluke Salu, worked as an infectious disease physician and often spoke fondly about the physician assistants with whom she worked. 

But when his father took him back to the family’s native country of Nigeria at the age of 12, he struggled to find motivation and interest in his new academics. His studies there focused on food science – something he found himself less passionate about. 

“The education system in Nigeria was definitely different than what you’d learn here in the U.S.,” he said. “I only wanted to study medicine, and on top of that, didn’t want to be there in the first place.” 

These struggles left Akinyemi convinced that he wasn’t cut out for a career in healthcare, a belief solidified by his teachers’ lack of confidence in him as a student. 

“I remember speaking to my family and they reminded me that before I went to Nigeria, I wanted to study healthcare,” he shared. “But I thought ‘No, they don’t want a student like me.’”

But his family continued to encourage him. Eventually, he used this as motivation to not only finish high school in Nigeria and received his undergraduate degree from Bowen University, also in Nigeria, where he studied Food Science. Returning to the United States at age 20, Akinyemi took his science prerequisite courses in his home state of New York and began earning his required 1,000 patient care hours as a medical assistant in primary care and pediatric settings.

“It was the science courses I took for my prerequisites that really solidified my desire to become a PA,” Akinyemi noted. “Learning about the human body has always really excited me, and I knew I was on the right path.”

When he was ready to select a PA program, he chose the MGH Institute because its role in the Mass General Brigham system would afford him the opportunity to learn from world-class clinicians. He was also intrigued by the program’s focus on team-based learning.

“Working with my classmates and helping them succeed has always been important to me,” he said of this learning model. “The way the curriculum focuses on this has been helpful in teaching me the values of teamwork that I’ll need as a practicing PA.”

His professors echoed these sentiments. “Akinyemi has demonstrated outstanding academic performance in our challenging and intense curriculum while consistently supporting other students both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Instructor Jenny Smith. “He actively participates in several of our community programs, the advocacy work we do, and other projects where he contributes to the PA profession.”

After graduation, Akinyemi plans to work with surgeons or begin a residency program. He’s taking a level-headed approach, noting that he’ll just “take it from there” at that point in time, trusting that his education will have prepared him well for what’s to come in his new career.

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