Category Archives: Traveling PA

Student debt was ruining my life.


I graduated from PA school in December of 2014.  For those of you who don’t know me well or my story, a brief background: I have three degrees and a lot of debt.  I made a lot of stupid choices with my education when I was young. I went to two private colleges before PA school.  I have a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in counseling psychology.  I already had a lot of debt and I wasn’t happy with these choices (I know solid self high-five for me to screwing that one up).  For a multitude of reasons, I made these choices.  I had little to no guidance at what the hell I was doing <with my life>  and like I mentioned before I didn’t really have an academic or life direction.  I spent the majority of my childhood with my mom being very ill with cancer and my dad and I had a rocky relationship at best.  Regardless, I made those choices and I own them.  Fast forward to deciding to go to PA school and take on more debt.  I said screw it.  I can either live with a career that I’m not satisfied with because of extra financial burden or pursue what I want.  Obviously, I pursued becoming a PA and I don’t regret it.

However, I had/have a shit ton of debt. My federal debt is under control. But, I had private loans my father took out to pay for my undergraduate education (yea I signed the papers but lets be honest I had no idea what I was doing).  A process that I’m still not sure how I didn’t qualify for more federal loans–but, that is a story for another day.  I graduated to discover these loans had been thrown in to collection. I wasn’t paying them while I was in PA school and my dad didn’t pay them towards the end. So, there I was new white coat and 50k in private debt that I had no way to pay.  I had already accepted a position that wasn’t great paying–but, I took it because I knew the physician and I knew it would be a good learning experience (and it was a great group and experience).  Well–I definitely couldn’t afford both my federal and private loans.

There is a long story in between, but months later while talking with one of my supervising physicians she told me that I couldn’t stay at this job for loyalty.  That I had to take care of myself.  So, I did.  I looked in to work as a traveling PA.  Working as a travel PA would allow me to significantly increase my income and decrease my living expenses.  Hence, allowing me to pay off these private education loans that had become a real pain in my ass.

Back to my supervising MD.  She told me to set an alarm on my phone for one year from today.  She told me that one year from now your life will be substantially better, more stable.  Things will work out.  I did it. I set an alarm my phone and on August 1st I contacted her to tell her that she was right. This too shall pass and that I was strong enough and smart enough to take on everything that needed handled in my life. The result right now is that I’ve paid off nearly 25k in debt in 8 months. I’m over half way to my goal of paying off these damn private loans.

What’s my message and purpose? Why am I being so transparent about shit no one talks about?

This too shall pass. Loans suck.  Life is hard sometimes. Grab life by the balls, horns or whatever object you would like to insert here.  For anyone else out there who has suffered for whatever reason in student debt that has seemed insurmountable it will be ok.  You can find ways to make money and cut costs.  Especially as a PA–there are so many opportunities.  If you are in my shoes and want to pursue locum work, please e-mail me.  I can help you get in touch with the right person!

I tell my story to innumerable amounts of people in hopes that they will learn from my mistakes.  Go to community college first.  Know what your end goal is.  Have purpose in your action and education. Work during school and put that money–whatever you can towards your tuition. Go to state school.  No one gives a shit about your private college education besides you or your parents (hey if it’s paid for and you want to do it go for it–I’m speaking purely from a financial perspective).

I had no business going to college when I did. But it was expected and the norm–so I did.  I had no idea what I was doing and again to reference Amy Poehler: “We need to stop asking young people what they want to do and start asking them what they don’t want to do.”  I couldn’t agree more. Once you see what you want zero part of–you start narrowing down your options and what you want becomes more clear. Not only that, but you become more motivated to pursue things that will keep you from doing what you do not want to do.  We are a species that will avoid what we don’t like at all costs. Hence, you develop drive to pursue something you want.

I can blame my situation and point fingers–but I didn’t.  I might mention it, but I took responsibility and control.   People may read this and go “wow, that’s embarrassing” and laugh.  Whatever. Laugh, judge do whatever you want. You know why I say “whatever”? Because somewhere there is someone who is having the same emotional breakdown I did, and I’d rather help that one person than stay quiet for my pride.

If anyone out there has questions for me or needs direction or reassurance please feel free to contact me.  Always remember: “This too shall pass”.

First Assignment

Despite the fact that I just started my first assignment as a traveling PA, I feel like it has been a lifetime because I spent so much time preparing and researching in the process to make this switch.  The first position I took out of school was a great experience and I loved my co-workers. My supervising physician’s were very in to teaching me and supportive and I will always be thankful to them. If you need a PCP in Pittsburgh hit me up and I can refer you–I would let them treat my loved ones which I think says a lot. However, I had personal factors driving my decision to take the route as a traveling PA and I do think it’s going to be great decision for advancing my career and from a financial standpoint.  The representative I work with from Barton Associates (Steve, God love him for dealing with me) told me I asked more questions than anyone he has ever worked with before.  If you are considering doing the travel thing I can hook you up with him, he is great at his job. Anyways, there was a lot to consider–but I’m really glad I’m here.

So, where is here?  Currently, I’m in central PA within the Geisinger health system (there are various locations and I will refrain from saying exactly which location in case I share experiences under my “knowledge bomb” tab–cause you know HIPPA is a thing).

I was really reluctant to move from the city life of Pittsburgh to well an area where the closest Starbucks is 20 miles away (At least I think that is how far it is–I haven’t been to one since I got here which is probably good for my pocketbook).  A great number of locum’s positions are in what we call “rural areas”. I previously lived in Pittsburgh for 8-9 years and was kind of terrified at not having certain amenities at my finger tips.  I told Steve as long as there was a CrossFit gym, I was ok with it.  I can say this–I DO NOT miss sitting in 45 minutes of traffic to go 7 miles. I was working 8 hour days, but putting in 10 with travel time. So far I am loving my position.  There is a lot more independence and I’m dealing with a higher level of acuity patients, while this is some what scary–its exciting and a good kind of scary because I am learning so much.  I’m also working 12 hour night shifts which is a completely different job. I thrive on new situations and love exploring new places, even if it is the middle of no where 🙂 As you can see in the picture below the main attraction is farm land, barns, silo’s and cows.

My fur baby, Piper and me exploring trails while at my first assignment in Lewisburg, PA
My fur baby, Piper and me exploring trails while at my first assignment in Lewisburg, PA

I bring my dog everywhere.  She is seriously my fur baby and I’m so glad I have her right now.  I left a lot of people I love back in Pittsburgh, who I am lucky to have supporting me wherever I go.

My boyfriend, Jeff and myself. He's starting Physician Assistant school at The University of Pittsburgh this year! I'm fortunate that he is supporting the path I have chosen. So proud :)
My boyfriend, Jeff and myself. He’s starting Physician Assistant school at The University of Pittsburgh this year! I’m fortunate that he is supporting the path I have chosen. So proud 🙂




Welcome!  We are currently getting underway!  Be patient… LOTS of info coming your way 🙂



My Name is Danielle Kepics, I am a 2014 graduate of The University of Pittsburgh. I currently work as a traveling Physician Assistant in my second position of my career. I don’t claim to be a super expert on the Physician Assistant profession, I am just someone who has been through the trenches. Through my process I spent a lot of time gathering information and learning what I needed to do for various phases of pursuing my career. What I found was that all of that information is kind of scattered everywhere. My hope is that this site can be a centralized hub for information pertaining to all stages of becoming and practicing medicine as a Physician Assistant.