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Meet Jacob Bliss

Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Hometown: West Des Moines, Iowa 

Jacob Bliss became interested in health care at a young age. His mother is a 30-year nurse and unit-based educator in an intensive care unit, and he grew up attending unit meetings and skills trainings by her side. 

“That’s part of why I decided medicine was something I wanted to do,” Bliss says. 

During college at Iowa State University, he deepened his interest in the field while studying abroad in Botswana for six months. Bliss participated in clinical rotations and hands-on patient care alongside local doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. 

“That’s where I first thought that I wanted to go into patient care, and I’m so thankful that I did that program,” Bliss says. “I’d love to go back to Botswana as a provider someday.” 

Bliss first applied to the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program right after finishing his undergraduate degree in 2019, but his initial round of applications was unsuccessful. While it was a setback, he is glad that he had the chance to get more experience prior to his PA education. 

“I look back and I’m happy they told me I needed to become more well-rounded,” he says. “It’s astounding how much I’ve learned, and it’s only going to benefit me going forward.” 

He decided on Iowa not just because of the high ranking of the PA program, but also because he admired the way the program was integrated with the MD program. 

“It allows you to gain the same knowledge as a doctor, and you learn how to benefit from working well with all the different professions,” he says. “I like how the University of Iowa PA program has kept their class size small, but you get to use the larger class of medical students as resources for studying or other opportunities throughout the schooling and clinical portions of the program.”  

Going forward 

As a part of his re-application journey, Bliss began working as a patient care technician in the Intensive Care Unit at UnityPoint Des Moines. The clinical knowledge he gained—in addition to experience with research, presenting, and teaching others—helped prepare him for the next step.

“My experience solidified that I want to be a PA,” he says. “As someone who likes to help others and likes to have a broad understanding and gain new experiences, I appreciate that PAs have the ability to move around to different fields of medicine. You get a perfect balance of patient care and medical care.” 

Bliss became an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at UnityPoint, and he plans to continue emphasizing equity in medicine through his education and career. 

One of our initiatives was creating a list of inclusive hair and skin care products for patients,” he says. “A goal of mine as a health care professional is to foster an inclusive environment by providing equitable care to all individuals.” 

Like his mother, he’s drawn to the intensive care environment. 

"These have been some of the roughest years of working in health care that we’ve experienced in this country,” Bliss says. “Being around other people that are working in the ICU and seeing the dedication to the patient population that we care for, how sick they are, and then getting to see those patients improve... It’s a feeling I never had before, and I want to continue to experience that in my career.”