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Critical Assist

Alumnus reflects on his journey from BSU to ER

Physician assistant Cory Pickering, ’14, is always on his toes. He must be ready for any conceivable illness or trauma facing patients who come to the Brockton Hospital emergency room.

“We see everything from an ankle sprain to a brain bleed,” he said of a typical shift working as the hospital’s lead physician assistant. “It’s really a diverse day. Every patient presents differently.”

Pickering credits his Bridgewater State University biology education with preparing him for medical school and a rewarding career.

“BSU really gave me a good foundation for the sciences,” Pickering said.

Initially planning to go away for college, Pickering knew he needed to stay close to his family’s native Abington after his father died just two weeks before the start of his freshman year.

BSU admitted him at the last minute, and he quickly grew to appreciate the faculty and opportunities for undergraduate research at Bridgewater.

He studied microbiology with Dr. Jenna Mendell and the nervous system with Dr. Joseph Seggio. In the lab, he researched the role of a bacteria in the development of an eye infection.

Pickering’s intelligence shone through, while his research experience cemented intangible skills that are essential in the medical field, said Mendell, an associate professor of biological sciences.

“Where undergraduate research really helps is the ability to think critically, the ability to think independently and the ability to troubleshoot when things go wrong,” she said.

Pickering has a quiet confidence that very likely puts patients at ease, Mendell added.

Off campus, Pickering volunteered at Brockton Hospital and completed his EMT certification. Those experiences coupled with undergraduate research stood out when applying to Tufts Medical School’s highly competitive physician assistant program.

Pickering said he felt prepared for Tufts’ difficult curriculum thanks to his experiences at Bridgewater State.

“BSU taught me how to really develop my work ethic,” he said. “It’s hard going to college when you’re on your own. … BSU taught me how to be independent in my studying and learning.”

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