Teaching high school may look like an odd blip on Muhammad Jan’s healthcare-heavy resume. In actuality, this PA and 2023 graduate of Butler’s Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) Bridge program has followed a thoughtful plan to become a practicing healthcare educator.

“My entire journey to this point has revolved around education. Knowledge is like an unquenchable thirst. I love learning, teaching, and learning through teaching,” Jan says. “It’s in my blood. As I grew up in America, my mom and dad always emphasized how important education is and how no one can take it away from you. I’ve held that to my heart.”

Jan, his siblings, and his mother left Pakistan when he was 8. He credits his “remarkable and supportive” parents for nurturing his long-held interest in both teaching and medicine; he double majored to earn two bachelor’s degrees at once: in Education and in Science, graduating summa cum laude with the former and magna cum laude with the latter. But instead of heading to the medical school where he was accepted, he became a high school teacher at the same inner-city school his siblings had attended as youths.

Though he was a popular teacher, Jan admits it was rough. He lost a couple of students each year to violence.

“When you grow up in poverty, it’s so hard to get out of the mindset that everyone’s against you,” Jan says. “It was the best two years of my life, the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it wasn’t sustainable.”

He returned to medicine, enrolling in PA school with a plan to become a PA program director/instructor; he was one of just 15 students nationwide selected as a Future Educator Fellow by the PA Education Association. Three months after graduating, Jan started a job as a hospital emergency department PA.

One week later, he began Butler’s DMS Bridge Program.

“I realized that if I want to be taken seriously, having a terminal degree gives you a better seat at the table to make a difference. I saw an opportunity with the Butler DMS Bridge to finish in two semesters. It was rigorous and demanding, but I learned a lot and made great friends. It’s a challenge, but anybody can do it,” he says.

And because of his Bridge Program experience, Jan says he now thinks about healthcare more holistically.

“Instead of just thinking about the medical treatment in a situation, I also think about the administrative aspect, the team, and other components. The Program taught me there’s a
whole integrated, interacting system.”

He plans to stay in emergency medicine as a DMS and learn more about the hospitalist/inpatient side. Eventually, he wants to become a PA program faculty member, then one day run his own PA program at a university—returning full circle to his dream of being a healthcare educator.