Another school year at the University of Rhode Island is almost over, and for some that means graduation is just around the corner. Rachel Murphy, a senior biology and psychology double major, is both excited and nervous to graduate.

While at URI, Murphy was a part of Delta Epsilon Mu (DEM) medical fraternity, and a research assistant for Dr. Bryan Dewsbury’s lab in the Center for Biological and Environmental Life Sciences.

As a research assistant, Murphy did coding and studies on social and emotional learning involving minorities. Last November, she presented her research at a conference in Indianapolis.

“It was eye opening, honestly,” said Murphy. “I learned a lot about things and challenges of being a minority in educational settings.”

After graduating, Murphy plans on going into the medical field, which is why she chose her specific major. She is interested in both the physiological and psychological components of health. Rather than becoming a doctor, Murphy hopes to one-day be a physician’s assistant (PA). She plans on applying to become a PA in a few years.

“To go to PA school you’re required to do 2,000 clinical hours and I have about 400 right now,” said Murphy. “I am going to take a year off, get my hours done, and apply the next cycle.”

Murphy said that most people who go to PA school wait a few years after getting their undergraduate degree, and that it is actually recommended by PA schools themselves.

“It shows maturity and that you really want to be a PA enough to come back to school,” Murphy said.  

In the year after graduation, Murphy plans on staying in Rhode Island and working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at her current job, which is at a nursing home. “I have friends and family here, so I do not see any reason to leave the state,” said Murphy.

When it comes to URI, Murphy said she wishes that the school provided practical experience for health majors other than nursing and pharmacy.

“If you are pre-med or pre-PA, the school does not offer or connect you with any internships, clinical hours or hands on stuff,” Murphy said. “I had to find opportunities myself by emailing doctors directly,” said Murphy.

Murphy feels as though there should be some collaboration between URI and hospitals in which pre-med or pre-PA students can sign up for a specific program. However, the education itself at URI was great, in the eyes of Murphy.

“I loved all my teachers,” Murphy said. “There was just nothing hands-on.”

When looking back at her time at URI, Murphy thinks that maybe she would want to major in kinesiology or nursing instead of psychology. However, in general, Murphy was pleased with her time at the University.

“I actually do not think I would really change anything,” she said.