A career in medicine often comes with a high price—long years of study, high debt, and delaying the start of family. But at the age of 32, Lynne O’Mara is a senior physician assistant and clinical director for the new Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Center for Geriatric Surgery, earns a good salary, and raises her two daughters with husband Patrick ’09, all without investing four years in medical school and a residency.
While studying biology at Franciscan University, Lynne shadowed physicians and PAs.
“The Franciscan Biology Program gave me all the prerequisites I needed for the PA program, so I saved time and money in grad school,” Lynne explains. “And though I didn’t realize it at the time, the independent research I did with Dr. Perozich in bioinformatics really impressed every grad school where I applied.” Looking back, she values knowing professors personally and receiving their help and advice on a career path.
After graduating from Franciscan, Lynne was hired as a research assistant in Dartmouth College’s Testicular Cancer Research Lab where she published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She then earned her master’s in physician assistant studies through the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ accelerated 23-month program. She loves the autonomy to diagnose and treat her own patients, prescribe meds, and assist in surgery.
It was the Austria Program that really sold Lynne on choosing Franciscan as an undergrad. “In biology, a lot of schools don’t allow you the option to study abroad — but Franciscan helped me save all my core classes such as humanities to take in Austria. I took classes four days a week, then traveled three days a week to Rome, Assisi, and 15 countries.”
Lynne met her future husband Patrick, also a biology student, during her last week at Franciscan. He has since finished his master’s in bioinformatics from Harvard Extension School and is working as a programmer analyst for Cell Signaling Technologies, a biotech company that designs and creates antibodies for research utilization. She smiles and says with passion, “I love Franciscan—and I hope our kids go there!”