From AmeriCorps to Med School

We love to connect with our AmeriCorps alumni to see what they have accomplished since they completed their service year with Full Life Care. James Abe served as an AmeriCorps member in the 2013-2014 term and he is now on a journey toward a career in medicine.

Why did you choose to serve in AmeriCorps?

I chose to do AmeriCorps because I stumbled upon an incredible opportunity to help out a demographic I have been passionate about since youth. Specifically, vulnerable patients with a lifelong disability.

Where did you serve and what did you learn?

I served at Full Life Care’s South Seattle Adult Day Health Center. The most important thing I learned is the vast amount of obstacles patients with disabilities (especially from a low socioeconomic background) encounter when they attempt to implement their given treatment plan. Even with the best intentions and assistance from a great social worker, clients, unfortunately, faced great barriers to reach their goals. Because of this, it was incredibly rewarding when I saw clients meet their goals.

What was a typical day like in your AmeriCorps role?

I started most days creating a problem-focused treatment plan for up to 10 clients on my caseload. Also, quarterly I participated in a multidisciplinary meeting pertaining to designated goals for my clients. During the afternoons I assisted in implementing the treatment plans designed by the on-site occupational therapist and led healthy lifestyle groups. Additionally, I was the liaison for volunteers at the day health center.

What did you do following your service year? What are you doing now?

Following my service, I enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Currently, I am doing my intern year in Portland, Oregon, and in June 2019 I will start my residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), a specialty focused on improving the quality of life of patients with a disability. I’ll be doing my residency at the University of Washington with rotations at the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Center, University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

How did AmeriCorps service with Full Life make an impact on your current career path?

One of the reasons I ultimately chose PM&R as a career is because of how rewarding I found working with patients with disabilities. PM&R physicians are afforded the privilege of focusing on how a patient’s loss of function affects their lifestyle and offer different treatment modalities to uniquely address these issues.

What is your favorite aspect of your current role?

The intellectual challenge of finding a way to help a patient to either improve or accommodate to their ailment over time.

What’s your advice for those considering joining AmeriCorps?

Have a “project.” For me during AmeriCorps my project was coordinating with a local beauty salon and giving our clients free monthly haircuts. The clients at Full Life Care have complicated lives and due to innumerable reasons, it is much more difficult for them to accomplish many tasks we take for granted. I felt like this free monthly event gave our clients one less thing to worry about.

Anything else you would like to add?

Have fun with co-members! Like college, this is a great opportunity to connect with several people your age from many diverse backgrounds.

Interested in serving your community? Full Life is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 AmeriCorps team, which begins service in September. Apply through the AmeriCorps listing or email us for information.