Meet Maddie Fortman

Date: Monday, April 8, 2024

PA student Maddie Fortman hiking at Lake Tahoe, California.You entered the PA program with an interest in orthopedics, which was prompted by participating in club gymnastics and experiencing ACL/meniscus injuries in your youth. What are your career goals now?

At the start of PA school, I would've told you I really wanted to be an ortho PA, but that I was trying to keep an open mind. It’s ironic how the more I go through school, the less I know what I want to do. I love learning about so many different aspects of medicine and how interconnected everything is. I still love ortho, but I'm considering starting in something less specialized, such as family medicine, internal medicine, or emergency medicine, to build a foundation on what I learned in school right out of the gate. I love being challenged to think critically about how different combinations of chronic diagnoses impact a patient’s overall health. I'd be happy in a lot of areas and am very open-minded, so I’m excited to see where I end up!

What has been your greatest challenge in PA school, and how are you overcoming it?

Since starting PA school, my family has gone through a lot of adversity—first with my younger brother’s health, and then with my mom being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I’m an out-of-state student, so not being able to see my family very often when my mom is going through surgeries and intensive chemo is hard. The faculty and my classmates have been so supportive, and I wouldn’t have been able to continue school without their kindness. I know my mom wants to see me do well in school, so that is a huge motivator for me to stay strong for her and finish on time. I'm very passionate about making a difference in patients’ lives and supporting them through similar challenges they may face. This helps me to keep going when the stressors mount. It also really helps to have consistent hobbies outside of school to de-stress (shoutout to HotHouse Yoga).

If you weren’t pursuing a career in health care, what would you be doing right now?

I would be a music teacher or professional flautist. I've been playing the flute and piccolo for about 12 years, through middle and high school and all four years of college at Purdue. I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in music, but I realized that I could have both in my life if I kept up with the flute as a lifelong hobby. I would also love to teach yoga, Pilates, and competitive gymnastics on the side!

What have you learned about yourself in PA school that you didn’t know before?

I've grown so much in PA school in terms of strength, resilience, and faith. I've been tested more than I ever have in academics and life in general. My passion for medicine and having an impact on patients has only grown since starting PA school, and my “why” for wanting to do this is constantly evolving to have more meaning and depth. I've learned that to get through challenges in terms of life itself and a career, you’ve got to have your heart in the right place and have a genuine motivation behind your goals. When things get tough, your “why” and your faith are what carry you. Early in clinical rotations, I've seen that perseverance absolutely pays off!