One PA Student's Journey from Athletic Trainer to Physician Assistant

One PA Student’s Journey from Athletic Trainer to Physician Assistant

by Marley Bickley ’22

Scott Ganucheau ‘21 has had quite the journey to becoming a physician assistant. Ganucheau began his interest in sports medicine while an undergraduate student at LSU. He then continued his studies as a graduate student at University of South Carolina.

Throughout his work with athletic training, he had worked with SEC teams such as LSU and USC before getting involved in high school athletics in Lexington, S.C.

“I love athletic training and will always remain an advocate for ATs,” Ganucheau said. “I will likely keep my certification for as long as I can.

“My experience as an AT gave me relationships and experiences with a lot of really good PAs.”

Working as an AT, Ganucheau saw the medical field from a unique perspective. His experience includes serving as an assistant and co-head AT for schools in the Lexington area. He’s also chaired the South Carolina Athletic Trainers Association’s high school workshop, and he taught sports medicine to young students in the district’s health science curriculum.

“I always had great rapport with the PAs, and they would let me pick their brains on a lot of stuff,” Ganucheau said. “A few of them had been former ATs and the others were definitely advocates for ATs. I know I talked with a lot of them at length about their job duties, employment opportunities, and the intensity of their schooling.”

Making the Big Transition

With the idea of PA school always in the back of his mind, Ganucheau also had to consider the seven years of college he had just endured and 15 years spent putting his skills as an AT to good use. Still, throughout his sports medicine career, he never stopped being curious and always had the desire to expand his knowledge.

“In the past few years when talking with the PAs on the sidelines about how awesome their job was, they would always say you can still do it, you’d be great at it, and there’s no age limit to schooling!” Ganucheau said. “When a lot of them told me that some of their classmates were my age or even older, it made me think about it more.

“So they gave me the confidence to really think about it, and my wife gave me the confidence for the final push.”

Ganucheau notes a lot of similarities between the skills and schooling he’s learning now and his AT training. What he’s learned since beginning the PA Studies program is adding more to his knowledge to make him the best healthcare provider possible. Whether working in sports medicine or as a PA, he relates healthcare as healthcare, just in a different way.

“I’m going to be using a lot of the same patient-centered skills that I learned as an AT and adding some even more advanced medical skills to the toolbox to make me an even better health care provider,” Ganucheau said. “I’m just going to be helping people in a different role, but in the end, it’s still healthcare.”

New Experiences and Opportunities

“Lateral mobility as a PA is really exciting to me,” Ganucheau said. “I honestly don’t know what specialty I want to pursue!

“I know a natural fit would be orthopedics for me, but a new world of medicine has been opened up to me and is at my fingertips. There are so many options. It’s exciting!”

Having taken quite the long path to his dream job, Ganucheau is finally experiencing clinical rotations and getting a real outlook on the day-to-day life of a PA. Retaking science credits, getting back into the habit of school, and having to adjust with his wife on how to care for their family has all proven to be worth it so far.

“Some of the final things that led to the decision was that I had some personal tragedies happen in my life the past five to six years or so,” Ganucheau said. “It made me look at life in different ways and really think about if I passed away tomorrow would I have any regrets.

“I came to the conclusion that life is too short to have regrets and after thinking and praying about it and having the support of my wife, I decided to pursue it.”

Learn More about Becoming a PA

To learn more about experiences like Scott’s, please visit the Physician Assistant Program. Please complete this short form if you have any questions or to apply.

About the Author

Marley Bickley ’22 is a junior English communications studies and history double major from Lexington, S.C. Marley was one of only five PC students selected as a Russell Paid Intern for the 2020-2021 academic year. Also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, the Stirlings program, and a tutor in the Writing Center on campus, Marley plans to pursue a career in journalism after she graduates from PC.