UOG alum becomes physician assistant and begins certification in life-saving surgeries
Nicko Inocencio’s first job as a University of Guam computer science graduate in 2015 was to compile data for the island’s death records. The job put his technological expertise to good use but simultaneously introduced him to the fields of public health and medicine. Eventually, he felt a strong urge to work on the other side of the death records, helping to save lives instead. So in 2019, he returned to UOG but this time to prepare for a career in the medical field.
“As a PA, I get to do all the stuff that I wanted to do as a medical doctor, but I have the guidance of a physician. It’s like having a mentor,” Inocencio said.
Upon completing his pre-requisites, he applied for and was accepted into the Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant Program at Arcadia University in Delaware in 2021.
Now, after earning his MMS in May 2023, Inocencio is moving onto a physician assistant fellowship at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell in New Jersey. He will be training under the Surgical Trauma & Acute Resuscitative Service (STARS) program to eventually become a certified acute care surgery as a PA.
This two-year fellowship will offer Inocencio experience encompassing trauma, critical care, and emergency surgeries and handling and assessing patients with blunt or penetrating injuries. He will be supporting doctors during surgery and overseeing the patient’s care and recovery before and afterwards.
Besides gaining experience, Inocencio is looking forward to the personal connection and assistance he’ll be able to provide the patients.
“A lot of the time when people come in and it’s a trauma surgery case, it's completely unexpected. This is probably one of the worst times of their lives and of their families' lives,” Inocencio said. “Getting to be in a position where I can sit down and talk them through what we are doing and comfort them is what I'm looking forward to the most.”
As he begins the next phase of his medical journey, Inocencio recognized how well UOG prepared him. His pre-requisites at UOG’s College of Natural & Applied Sciences played a key role in his acceptance to the PA program.
“With CNAS, I felt so prepared walking into my PA program,” he said. “I was able to compete with students who went to big-name schools. We all made it and have the same degree and do the same work. So UOG can get you to where you want to be.”
During his time at UOG, he was a teaching assistant and an adjunct math instructor. Learning to communicate as a teacher and to work with a diverse population are a few skills Inocencio learned at UOG and uses on a day-to-day basis as a PA.
“As an instructor, I would have to find a way to explain complex topics in a way that is easily understandable, and that’s what I have to do in medicine every day,” he said.
While Inocencio plans to stay in the medical field, he is still using his B.S. in Computer Science. As a PA student, he worked as a teaching assistant in charge of computer programs since he was familiar with the technology. When doing clinical rotations, his background in computer science made adapting to the hospital’s systems easier.
“There is an entire laundry list of programs we must use, and depending on the hospital, it can change,” Inocencio said. “Having that familiarity with computer science and knowing little tricks to help with optimize those systems has really helped me learning new programs.”
At Arcadia University, Inocencio became a mentor for his fellow underclassmen and wanted to teach them the sense of community that he has learned in Guam.
“I want my team to know that I am present — for support and to be a part of that community and team,” Inocencio said.
He hopes to help encourage students from Guam, the Philippines, and the neighboring islands to consider medicine as a viable career and is eager to guide any student who is interested in becoming a PA.