Bristol health center gets a fresh face
BRISTOL — For seventh-generation Vermonter Shawn May, becoming a new physician assistant (PA) at Bristol’s Mountain Health Center recently was a move that tied his life’s pursuits together.
Having grown up in Huntington, the 42-year-old headed to the other side of the country for college. He obtained dual degrees in environmental studies and psychology from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. He then traveled the world for several years, living in Belize, southern France and Scotland. He obtained a master’s degree in social work from the University of Vermont and later went on to become a licensed psychotherapist and then a personal trainer.
Along the way May decided he wanted to combine his skill sets and become a primary care provider.
“My entire academic career since I was 18 had all been about health and healing, whether it be about healing natural ecosystems, using comparative religion to heal the spirit or becoming a licensed psychotherapist and healing the mind,” he said.
He decided to go the physician assistant route to primary care and finished a post-baccalaureate pre-med program at UVM in just six months, which May said is the fastest any student has ever completed the program. He then went to Franklin Pierce University in West Lebanon, N.H., and graduated from the school’s inaugural class of physician assistants.
When Dr. Wendy Puls left Mountain Health recently, May said he jumped at the opportunity to work there.
“Mountain Health Center has that ethos and spirit,” he said. “It’s really about knowing your patient and your patient knowing you, and based on that trust you can work toward better health through and through.”
When asked what he likes most about his new career, he was unequivocal.
“Helping people understand that they have a really powerful role to play in their own health and well-being,” said May, who is now accepting new patients. “Being able to motivate them with encouragement, support and knowledge to take ownership of their own health is the most rewarding part of my job.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].
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