Dalton Gifford

What is your educational background, where are you from, and how did you end up at UK?

My name is Dalton Gifford and I am from Grayson, KY. From a young age I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Following graduation from high school, I attended Morehead State University and completed a bachelor's in biomedical sciences. I went on to complete PA school at UK and graduated in July 2020 and am now completing the PA ICU Residency Program. I fell in love with UK the first day I stepped on campus and would love to continue to be a part of the UK family. 

Why did you choose to participate in UK’s PA Residency Program?

I chose to participate in UK's PA Residency Program because I wanted to specialize in ICU. During PA school you learn a wide variety of knowledge and skills but learning the skills and knowledge for ICU care can take years of clinical practice to develop a strong base. By completing a residency program, I will accelerate my knowledge and skill base in the ICU and gain experiences I would not be able to as a new PA. Completing a residency will also help me achieve my dream career of working as an ICU PA in an academic medical center, a dream that would be difficult to achieve without years of practice as a PA otherwise. 

What has been the most rewarding experience thus far?

The most rewarding experience so far has been the total ICU experience from start to finish. Seeing patients in a variety of surgical and medical contexts and getting to play a part in their journey with them and their family. The journey is often complicated and at times messy, but very rewarding knowing you can make a positive impact in their care regardless of the outcome.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge so far has been trying to absorb all the new information I learn daily. In PA school we use the expression "drinking from a firehose." The same phrase could not be truer for the residency. Each day critical care is evolving, and new skills and medical knowledge become essential for your practice. Learning does not end when your shift ends. To grow within the residency and keep up, especially during a pandemic, reading at home is essential.   

What would you say to other PAs or PAS students who are considering applying for the residency program?

The residency program is difficult but worth every second of it. As we learned in school, your learning doesn't truly begin until you start seeing patients and putting a face to a diagnosis or condition. Take full advantage of every opportunity you have in your rotations or clinical practice and seek out new experiences. You will never grow until you get out of your comfort zone.

I would like to thank all my mentors and preceptors that have given me the opportunity to further my education and be in the program I am now and allow me to grow in this program. It is your generosity and willingness to teach that allows students and providers to grow as a clinician and as a person. Thank you for all that you do.